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Comment

Australia will miss David Warner's aggression and match-winning ability

As his time comes to a close, the opening batter, despite his recent struggles with form, will be remembered for his courage to play his own way

Ian Chappell
Ian Chappell
10-Sep-2023
David Warner strikes a pose at the pre-WTC final photo session, The Oval, London, June 2, 2023

Sitting Bull: Warner will be remembered as an aggressor to the finish, and destructive in all formats  •  ICC via Getty Images

The modern tendency is to favourably recall the last occurrence in a player's career. Consequently, Australia's opening master blaster, David Warner, will often be remembered as having a desire to finish his spluttering Test career at the SCG.
Barring injury, Warner's excellent form in Australia should allow him to achieve his ambition.
However, it's a mistake to only recall his overseas struggles. There's a lot more to him than those recent setbacks.
Warner is definitely not a T20 hitter who happened to make it in the Test arena. He is foremost a batter capable of performing well in any format.
I first saw him play against a strong South Africa attack, which he blasted to all parts of the MCG in his debut T20 international. My wife placed dinner on the table and I said, "Sit down and watch this kid, he can really play."
"What," replied Barbara-Ann, "all the fours and sixes?"
"Not just them," I answered, "the way he handles all deliveries - the excellent and the hittable ones."
Shortly afterwards Warner carried his bat, making a scintillating Test century against a good New Zealand attack where the other Australian batters struggled on a tricky Bellerive pitch. That cemented his place as a Test opener and it confirmed his all-round batting ability.
It also heralded one of Warner's biggest attributes - the courage to play his own way. He had the guts to take on the pace bowlers with the new ball and that is no mean feat. It's something that he should be remembered for - not many have the courage to not only do it but to maintain that approach throughout a lengthy career.
A look at Warner's overall career strike rate in all formats confirms he favoured that approach.
There are very few aggressive batters who keep an opposing captain awake at night with their ability to virtually win a match in one session. Warner is one of that rare breed
Not long after the explosive opener blasted an exquisite 165 not out in a 50-over match for NSW, a coach wanted Warner to bat at No. 7. He reasoned Warner could take advantage of the five late-innings powerplay overs that were then available to the fielding side.
This was stupidity on two counts. As an opener, Warner had a guaranteed ten powerplay overs, with another five likely. More importantly, it detracted from Warner's amazing ability to win a match in quick time with his belligerent stroke play against the new ball.
There are very few aggressive batters who keep an opposing captain awake at night with their ability to virtually win a match in one session. Warner is one of that rare breed.
He is also a smart, aggressive cricketer who would likely have made a tactically good captain. When a broken thumb on the 2015 tour against England forced him to do a short commentary stint for Channel 9 back in Australia, it soon became apparent he knew a lot about batting and what bowlers were doing to try and claim his wicket. He was also well aware of how he could overcome their tactics.
It would have been preferable if Warner had avoided the "attack dog" reputation he gained for on-field verbal jousting in his prime. However, I often wonder how much of that reputation was gained at the behest of the hierarchy.
Importantly, Warner hasn't forgotten his early days of stacking supermarket shelves. He's well aware of what his calling could have been if he hadn't been a talented opener. When that batting talent earned him good money early in his career, he set about looking after his parents financially.
In another admirable example of his ability to learn from life, he has forged a very strong family life, with his helpful wife Candice, and his beloved daughters.
Sure, Warner, like us all, has made some mistakes. The important thing is, he has learned from them and is a better person for those experiences.
Fans will have their memories of Warner, both good and bad. However, they should always remember that he had the courage to be an aggressor against the new ball and was a rare match-winner for his team.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is a columnist