Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 3rd day December 15, 2013

Warner kicks them when they're down

Weary and wandering in the third innings of each Test so far in this series, England have been greedily feasted upon by David Warner
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First it was sloth, then it was wrath, now it's gluttony. David Warner's 2013 has been a year of deadly sins.

He displeased his coaches by being out of shape on the tour of India and upset Cricket Australia by taking a swing at Joe Root, but his feasting on the England bowlers during this series at home has done nothing but please those around him.

Warner gave his helmet a whack with his bat as he walked off at the end of his second innings in Perth. Cue the jokes about it making a nice change to see him hitting himself in the head. But really it was an indication that he was not satisfied. Warner had made 112, more than enough to sate most batsmen, but he wanted more. He has been hungry ever since losing his place at Trent Bridge, and here was feeding greedily on a wearying England.

It has been that way ever since Brisbane. An entrée of three Ryobi Cup hundreds and one in the Sheffield Shield was followed by the main course. Had Michael Clarke not declared with Warner on 83 in the second innings in Adelaide, he could well have had centuries in each of the first three Ashes Tests. England's three leading run scorers in this series - Michael Carberry, Alastair Cook and Joe Root - have fewer runs than Warner between them.

After three Tests, Warner has 457 runs at 91.40, putting him on a similar tier to Cook in 2010-11. At the same point in that Ashes campaign, Cook had 495 runs and there seemed scant doubt he would be Man of the Series. He was. Now there appears little chance of Warner being given the same honour. The most likely candidate is Mitchell Johnson for delivering victory in the first two Tests, or perhaps the retaliator Brad Haddin.

But Warner's considerable contribution cannot be underestimated. His critics will argue that his largest scores have all come in the second innings, easy runs with a hefty lead already in hand. It is true that Australia would prefer him to score big in the first innings, but his 49, 29 and 60 have hardly been failures. And when the chance has come to bury a fading England, he has done it comprehensively. A player who does that repeatedly is valuable.

At the WACA, Warner walked to the crease in the second innings with Australia already 134 in front. A few cracks were opening up and had England's bowlers run through the top order cheaply, the contest may have been reignited. But Warner's approach only increased the pressure on England. Boundaries flowed; albeit not quite as freely as they did in Warner's 180 against India at the same ground two summers ago.

Despite being 27 Warner is still the most inexperienced first-class cricketer of anyone playing in this Test. Finding a long-form approach was trial and error.

He cut hard, drove hard, flicked hard, pulled hard. His wagon-wheel was so evenly spread it looked like an asterisk. Cook couldn't find an answer, wherever he sent the fielders. His opening partner Chris Rogers said after play that Warner's great strength was having an option for every ball. Rogers noted that while others must wait for bad balls to score from, Warner makes bad balls happen.

His hundred came from 127 balls. By stumps, the lead was 369 and the game was all but over. Things move quickly when Warner is batting. His method fits coach Darren Lehmann's mantra of aggressive play. The previous coaching regime tried to steer Warner to a more considered style.

"They were trying to get him to play more correctly I felt, to play with a straight bat," Warner's personal batting coach Trent Woodhill said earlier this month. "As soon as we take instinct away from an athlete and they start thinking about defence, or about technique, to me they're not going to have a long career."

It is not surprising that Warner's game has been tweaked at international level, for despite being 27 he is still the most inexperienced first-class cricketer of anyone playing in this Test. Finding a long-form approach was trial and error. There will be more errors, but with a circumspect opening partner like Chris Rogers, Warner should be free to play his way for the foreseeable future.

"You've got to keep riding that rollercoaster, don't let up and keep batting with intent and that's what I've been doing," Warner said after making his 112. "I know when I get out some people get a bit disappointed but that's just the way I play. Sometimes it's a bit hit and miss. I'm probably in the form of my career but that comes down to hard work. I've obviously grown some maturity. You've got to. I'm 27 now and you can't take anything for granted."

That became apparent to him in India and England this year. Warner has been given plenty of chances, but is finally taking them. It now seems certain that he will finish the series as a key contributor in Australia regaining the Urn. Who, then, could blame him for indulging in one more of the deadly sins? Pride.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • CustomKid on December 16, 2013, 1:49 GMT

    What I like about Warner is he's got himself super fit. With fitness comes greater mental strength and powers of concentration.

    He's always had the ability, he now realises you only get one shot at this and he's on a path to destruction, destruction of the opposition that is. A work colleague told me he's lost 10 kilos?? He's always been a nugget but now he's a nugget ripped with muscles!

    His style will at times will fail and cause frustration for supporters but if he maintains his current level of fitness and hunger to succeed he'll have a very good career.

  • Wefinishthis on December 16, 2013, 0:55 GMT

    This is exactly why Silk and possibly Patterson or Lynn need to come in for Bailey, Watson or Rogers if we wrap up the ashes in Perth. Warner and Smith both have limited first class experience, but proved that they could perform well when given their brief opportunity and Silk has shown the same potential.

  • orangtan on December 16, 2013, 0:37 GMT

    Warner has done a lot of sledging in India too, but when playing in the IPL he is very nice, guess he knows he shouldn't tamper with the money tree.

  • orangtan on December 16, 2013, 0:34 GMT

    @ModernUmpiresplz true Warner's celebration was not OTT when compared to the primal cries that Siddle indulges in. On the other hand, neither Harris nor Johnson, better bowlers than Siddle, indulge in some histrionics, the deadly stare by Mitch is about as far as he goes.

  • dummy4fb on December 16, 2013, 0:34 GMT

    James Faulkner just has to be in the Aussie team (when his broken thumb heals). batting at #6 and providing the 4th seamer role (at a decent 85mph). as well as being a more than useful all rounder, he just has a real presence about him.

  • kepler22b on December 16, 2013, 0:28 GMT

    Hughes - 26 tests 49 innings av 32 (take out his first series in SA - before bowlers had worked him out - and his av drops to 27). This guy is not up to it. He has been given enough opportunities.

  • kepler22b on December 16, 2013, 0:18 GMT

    Davidgold on (December 15, 2013, 19:39 GMT)

    You cite Watson for his lack of runs; have you bothered to look at Hughes. The guy has about the same test average and , if you take out his big early scores, has a worse average than Watson. And at least Watson can bowl.

    Hughes should never be allowed another baggy green. If Watson is to go, there are plenty of guys with good techniques waiting in the wings - Doolan, Silk, Burns, Voges, Maddison etc.

    Mitchell Marsh from WA is probably the long term all rounder we're looking for, although Faulkner is good too.

  • Shaggy076 on December 16, 2013, 0:03 GMT

    I don't get why the Martin Sneesby of this world have issue with batsman showing their jubiulation at making a ton, but never bring up a bowler/fielding side celebrating a wicket. You grow up dreaming of making 100's for your country, so when you get there celebrate it. Warner just showed how much he enjoyed making a 100 for Australia and did not hurt anyone by doing it. IS this political correctness gone mad or just sheer jealousy?

  • dunger.bob on December 15, 2013, 23:12 GMT

    @ Martin Sneesby: Further to what @ModernUmpiresPlz said. I'm pretty sure that Warner was fully aware that he may just have sealed an incredible and highly unlikely Ashes series win. The first in our last four attempts. He's played brilliantly all series and been a big part in this miracle. .. Tell you what, keep an eye on how he reacts next time he smacks a run a ball ton and see if it's any different. I'm betting it will.

  • ShutTheGate on December 15, 2013, 23:06 GMT

    I'm also on the band wagon fork Hughes becoming Rogers replacement but the balance of the side concerns me.

    Rogers toiling at one end allows Warner to bat more freely, but I can't see Warner, Hughes and Watson being an effective top 3. For me we need more balance in those spots.

    Perhaps we can bring in Hughes for Rogers in the SA series, move Watson down to number 6 and blood a potential who has a chance to become a long term quality number 3. Perhaps Alex Doolan. I have nothing against Bailey but I feel that getting a quality long term number 3 should be the priority for Australia if they want to get back to number 1. For me we should only go with one of Bailey, Faulkner and Watson in the side, depending on whether we want an all rounder or 6 specialist batmen in the team.

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