West Indies v Australia, 3rd Test, Roseau, 1st day April 23, 2012

Highwayman Warner takes the slow lane


Like a highway traveller learning to negotiate Sydney's notorious Parramatta Rd, David Warner is finding out how to drive in heavier traffic. Warner has a Test hundred from 69 balls, but at Windsor Park he agonised for 136 deliveries to scratch out a valuable 50, demonstrating plenty of resolve on another difficult day for Australia's batsmen. Use of the sweep against Shane Shillingford, the West Indies' most dominant bowler on a pitch taking turn, showed that the lessons are gradually proving to be useful.

This was far from a blemish-free innings from Warner, but it was worthwhile for its ugliness. Should Warner find a way to survive on days when the runs are not flowing, he will be a far more consistent run-maker, adding many more half-centuries alongside the days like that in Perth when everything flowed and he reached three figures from the aforementioned number of balls.

"It's something Darren Sammy reminded me of out there, it's not the way I play, but these are the kind of wickets where it's all about patience," Warner said. "I'm still learning that, learning the game. This is my ninth Test, and my first tour out of Australia as well. In Australia it's coming onto the bat a lot easier, they're running away for four, especially in Perth. It's only basically Adelaide Oval and the MCG where you really have to run for your shots.

"We've just got to work on getting our ones and two, and the boundaries aren't going to come. I was hitting good shots to mid-off but they weren't going anywhere off the square because it seemed a little dusty surface where the ball doesn't kick on. Whereas in Australia it skids off the square. They're the things I've got to keep in mind, particularly our running between the wickets.

"Moving forward we've got Tests in Australia then the Indians in India, it's something I've got to adapt to, I've got to bat long periods of time - that's my job as an opener, and I've got to keep working towards that and that's perfect experience for me here. The ball's turning and bowling's stump to stump it's going to be harder for me to score."

On the sorts of pitches that have prevailed in the Caribbean, Warner battled visibly at first, unable to have much impact on either the ODI or Twenty20 series. He has made a series of starts in the Tests, and after being swiftly disposed of by Shillingford in the first innings in Trinidad, he found a way to hold his own for a time in Roseau.

"It is [the toughest conditions I've faced], you go back to the one-day wicket in St Vincent where we had [Sunil] Narine bowling there, and you just figured in the back of your mind if he was playing alongside Shillingford, how are you going to score?" Warner said. "They're things we've got to look forward to when we've got four Tests in India when they've got very good spin bowlers as well - how are we going to score? That's something we've got to work out and find our game plan for that.

"[The sweep is] one of the things I've looked at. The lines he [Shillingford] is bowling to me, some [balls] are pitching outside leg, some are pitching on leg. In Australia, the player I am, I don't need to sweep. In Australia you can sweep if you want, but I find it a high risk shot in Australia because the ball skids on. When the wickets turning you've got to try to hit down on the ball, and I'm hitting against the spin as well.

"So it's an option for me to get off strike, you saw the off side's very cramped. So for me to score runs there is the cut shot, obviously I got dismissed [to it] but there were three there I should've hit for four as well. So they're the things I've got to learn, and I've got to be a bit more patient as well I think."

Warner also doffed his cap to West Indies, pointing to their athleticism in the field as much as their precision with the ball as a reason why Australia had appeared so constrained with the bat across this series. He noted their methods were best suited to slow Caribbean surfaces.

"The way they started in the one-dayers, it felt like you couldn't run a two in the outfield; they were so athletic and throwing off balance over the stumps with power," he said. "You thought there 'how are we going to get twos and threes, we've just got to hit boundaries' and that resulted in us being pegged back to low totals.

"The same thing here, they've bowled very well to us, they've obviously done their homework and they've got players playing at balls, they know some of us like to pull a lot and they've worked out what they need to do to get us out. It's slow and flat, the way to approach that is to be boring and patient. Credit to them, they've bowled fantastically."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on April 25, 2012, 12:55 GMT

    @mick82 - no subtext matey. I was genuinely interested to hear that Warner & the rest of the Ozzy boys were made to feel cautious about running on the throw. In the past (post Dynasty to now), the WI fielding has been sloppy & disinterested, despite appearing to have some top rate athletes. I love when a team lifts in the field, the old saying is "Catches win Matches", & the fact is its easier to become a good fielder than a good bowler or batsmen. I have not heard of Oz being so cautious when running between the wickets for a long while, maybe back to the mid 90s v Saffas?

  • Dummy4 on April 24, 2012, 13:04 GMT

    @Marcio, i agree completely, though i'm not sure you really need to know him personally to know that he is always trying to improve. I think it stands out quite clearly to everyone and he's not just trying but evidently achieving it too. I really don't think he is going to fail too much though. He needs to be more wary about his driving wide of off stump though, particularly on these slow pitches that are moving around a bit.

  • Dummy4 on April 24, 2012, 11:48 GMT

    Interesting to see this volte face from Warner. He was initially very disparaging about how slow Kraigg Brathwaite was batting in the opening test. However, it appears he has now found how difficult it is to score quickly on the surfaces we have seen...

  • Cauldric on April 24, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    Warner got lucky. But to get 50 runs you have to make them... Good batting still. Im focusing on Ponting though. He's a great player, maybe even a legend. But hes reminding me of Dravid in Aus recently. Maybe its time to call it a day. Pontings good games in Aus- Ind series were just the final drops in his bottle. Shake all you want, youll only get a drop now and then. So long Punter.... You've been great.

  • Mick on April 24, 2012, 10:36 GMT

    @Meety what are you getting at about windies fielding?

  • sam on April 24, 2012, 10:21 GMT

    There was nothing to praise in Warner's innings apart from patience. It was an extremely ugly one. Sometimes one scratches around for a long time to get a good enough score. He could have been out 20 times during his stay. He was extremely fortunate he stayed that long.

  • mukesh on April 24, 2012, 9:17 GMT

    Good to see warner playing like that , he is willing to learn and improve rather than say 'thats the way i play' , i still think phil hughes has a very important role in the future of Australian team , a guy who has 17 first class 100s at the age of 23 and an average of 45 surely has something very good about him , hope he comes back and answer his critics

  • Marcio on April 24, 2012, 8:26 GMT

    Warner is doing okay. These are very alien conditions, and he is very inexperienced. He is experimenting with very different styles, and that is full credit to him. Not that long ago he didn't have a defensive shot in his game, and he was considered a slogger! Everybody who knows him says he has an unquenchable thirst for self-improvement, and works tirelessly on his game. There's only one way for him to go, and that's up. Yes, he will fail, and maybe often. But but he will only get better as he works out the chinks in his armour. Many current and former players believe that he has a very special talent.

  • Jason on April 24, 2012, 7:34 GMT

    Good to see Warner grinding it out. If he's going to be successful at Test cricket, he's going to need to play these sorts of innings as well as the more extravagant ones we're used to seeing from him. Granted he wasn't the most convincing in this innings, but he's still learning how to play in these conditions.

  • disco on April 24, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    Now that we have some good young bowlers coming through I'd rather see Watto and Warner opening with Cowan (or Kawhaja) at three, and Watto used more sparingly as a bowler.

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