David Warner amassed 543 runs in Australia’s series win over South Africa at an average of 90.50 © Getty Images
David Warner has been the top-scorer in two consecutive series wherein Australia have emerged victorious. One was against England and the other against South Africa —two quality sides, one at home and the other away. Shrikant Shankar tells that Warner is well on his way to fulfilling his potential.
David Warner had a lot of issues going on in the middle of 2013. There was the incident with a couple of Australian journalists over his participation in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Then there was the well-publicised punching of England’s Joe Root. Warner was then sent away from the Ashes 2013 tour by new coach Darren Lehmann to play with the Australia A side. He missed the first two Tests as England had taken a 2-0 lead. There wasn’t much impact from him in the final three matches as England won the series 3-0.
At the time, people had mixed opinions on Warner. Everybody knew the potential was there, but his on-field and more importantly his off-field antics were threatening to derail his career. Then came the Ashes 2013-14 series Down Under. Warner began the series in Brisbane with scores of 49 and 124. Australia won by a comfortable margin. But his heroics were overshadowed by his unnecessary and insensitive comments against Jonathan Trott, who it was later revealed was suffering from a stress-related illness.
But Warner sent out an apology and came good with scores of 29 and 83 not out in the second Test in Adelaide. Australia again won by a comfortable margin. In the third Test in Perth, Warner struck 60 and 112 as Australia clinched the Ashes with two matches to go. His runs dried up in the final two Tests, but it didn’t matter much as Australia won them both to clinch a historic series 5-0. Warner ended up as the leading run-scorer with 523 runs. Still work was to be done.
The true test was against South Africa. The Proteas have the best fast bowling attack with the best bowler in Dale Steyn. Surely, Warner’s extremely attacking game would have been found out against the very best. But Warner got the better of them. He scored 12 and 115 in the first Test in Centurion as Australia stunned the world’s No 1 team. He was not happy with just scoring runs in the second innings of Test matches as was the case. He wanted to score the big runs even in the first innings.
Warner scored 70 and 66 in the second Test in Port Elizabeth, but South Africa inspired by Steyn won in four days. This only spurred Warner on as he struck two centuries — 135 and 145 — in the third and final Test in Cape Town to help Australia win the match and the series 2-1. Warner again finished as the leading run-scorer with 543 runs. He struck three centuries and two half-centuries at an average of 90.50. His strike-rate was a phenomenal 86.74. Warner scored 202 runs more than the second highest in the series in AB de Villiers.
If these numbers are not staggering, then one would find it hard to find anything else interesting. The author had written a while back about David Warner producing feats equivalent to that of football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. That article focused on a trigger in each individual’s career. Ronaldo’s was an incident with then Manchester United teammate Wayne Rooney in the FIFA World Cup 2006. Warner had his with Root. Ronaldo has gone onto become the world’s best player as accentuated by him winning the FIFA Ballon d’Or award. Warner is not there yet, but he is well on his way to fulfilling his potential.
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)