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April 23, 2012
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 hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala