Top-order get their time in the middle – now to beat Pakistan

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

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37 Have your say

    David Warner spoke this week about his need to adapt to the way his new opening partner, Matt Renshaw, plays the new ball.

    Warner said he’ll be looking to better read the signals coming from his still very green colleague at the top of the order.

    “I have to learn to adapt to the way he plays and he has to adapt to the way that I play,” Warner said in the build-up to the first ever day-night Test in Brisbane.

    “The beauty is if I get on top of an attack, he might get the loose ones and he can start playing a few shots.

    “Him leaving the ball on good areas may actually relay a message to me that there’s a bit of movement in the wicket and I have to start respecting it a little bit more and watch it closely.”

    Renshaw, the young Queensland opener outrageously criticised for his scoring rate in the second innings in Adelaide – you know; his Test Debut, pink ball, all that – is Warner’s eighth career opening partner in his 56 Tests played to date.

    You’d think it shouldn’t be a major issue for Warner, adapting to a contrasting style. Renshaw’s ‘real opener’ method, to borrow Richard Hinds’ favoured term, is the perfect foil for Warner’s natural game, and Warner’s longest and most productive opening partnerships have been with Chris Rogers and Ed Cowan; neither of them likely to give Warner a run for his money in strike-rate terms.

    Warner and Rogers passed 50 as a pair on 16 occasions in 41 innings, converting nine of them into century stands.

    Warner and Cowan went past 50 nine times in 28 digs, pushing three of them past 100 as well.

    Warner and Renshaw have started well as a pair, with their sole partnership netting 64 in the second innings in Adelaide against South Africa (remembering that Warner couldn’t open in the first innings due to an ill-timed decision to seek medical treatment for a shoulder issue while fielding).

    It was equally interesting to hear Warner talk about an evident maturing of his approach, the realisation that now – as the oldest player in the batting order – the time for wild, cavalier heaves at anything outside off stump might be coming to an end.

    “I haven’t been as patient… some balls I’ve been playing at, I probably shouldn’t be,” he said.

    “There’s probably been a bit more movement in the wickets as well. I should be trying to rein it in a little bit.”

    Yes, Warner probably should.

    But Warner’s exceptional form in the Chappell-Hadlee ODI series this month showed plenty of that. He still played his shots – that won’t change in a one-day game – but he showed maturity in his innings early on, and whenever a wicket was lost at the other end.

    And importantly, he gained some valuable time in the middle, which can only auger well for the first Test against Pakistan, against what will be another challenging bowling line-up.

    Australian batsman David Warner

    Renshaw also spent some time in the middle, even if wasn’t as much as he might have liked, facing more than 110 balls across both innings and making a first-innings 30 in Queensland’s eight-wicket loss to Western Australia last week. And one of the few Bulls’ bats to spend more time facing up was Usman Khawaja, who made 157 and 61 against the pink ball, in what you’d hope is the perfect lead-in to the Gabba Test.

    Steven Smith got plenty of time facing the New Zealand attack, and judging by the two ridicu-super-catches he took in consecutive games, he’s clearly seeing the ball pretty well.

    Peter Handscomb made 17 and 30 for Victoria against Tasmania in the day-night Shield game at Bellerive, and while it was pleasing to see Nic Maddinson make a first-innings 80 against South Australia under lights in Adelaide, he was bowled for a duck again in the second innings, as NSW fell in a heap to be all out 87.

    Even Matthew Wade got to spend some time with the batting pads on across the three ODIs against New Zealand, albeit late in the innings each time, and with Warner or Smith going at the other end.

    The central thing in all this is that where little over a fortnight ago there was uncertainty around the ability of the shaken-up Australian top-order to bat for any great length of time, they have all – with the possible exception of Wade – since had multiple chances to spend time at the crease.

    For the younger guys, this has even come against the pink ball, and the batsmen as a unit should take plenty of confidence out of the way they won in Adelaide.

    That’s not for a moment suggesting they’re comfortable; far from it. But it’s been a much smoother, and less nationally nervous build-up to this Test, and that should put the batting order in a good place.

    I’m just one cricket fan, but I feel a lot better than a fortnight ago about the Test team’s chances.

    Brett McKay
    Brett McKay

    Brett McKay is one of The Roar's good news stories and has been a rugby and cricket expert for the site since July 2009. Brett is an international and Super Rugby commentator for ABC Grandstand radio, has commentated on the Australian Under-20s Championships and National Rugby Championship live stream coverage, and has written for magazines and websites in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK. He tweets from @BMcSport.

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    The Crowd Says (37)

    • December 15th 2016 @ 7:17am
      Luke Ringland said | December 15th 2016 @ 7:17am | ! Report

      There is a bigger issue at play here then just the current Australian team. This to me says a lot about the future of test cricket. I’ll start with a question?

      What makes test cricket most absorbing? The ebbs and flows, and changes of pace. The contest between bat and ball. The showcase of grit and determination. Think of a batsman under the pump against a quality attack and a moving ball, digging in his heals and refusing to give in despite playing and missing and getting hit on the body. Think of the bowler who finds the energy for an unexpectedly fast yorker just before stumps despite having toiled in the hot sun all day. In short, test cricket is a fantastic stage for human drama.

      Test cricket is not only this, but this is it’s heart and soul. If this isn’t popular, than test cricket has no future. It will not survive as a llong form double inning ODI, any more than ODI will survive as long form T20.

      • Columnist

        December 15th 2016 @ 10:11am
        Brett McKay said | December 15th 2016 @ 10:11am | ! Report

        There’s an article in that for you, Luke..

        • December 15th 2016 @ 10:14am
          Luke Ringland said | December 15th 2016 @ 10:14am | ! Report

          Well, it is a slow work week :-D.

        • Columnist

          December 15th 2016 @ 12:56pm
          Geoff Parkes said | December 15th 2016 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

          I’d like to dig ‘heals’ in as well.

          Preferably very deep.

    • December 15th 2016 @ 8:49am
      Don Piper said | December 15th 2016 @ 8:49am | ! Report

      Warner will be out early against Amir trying to heave on for 6 in the 3rd over

      Get him back to grade cricket

      • December 15th 2016 @ 9:20am
        Mickey of Mo$man said | December 15th 2016 @ 9:20am | ! Report

        little early for a drink champ!

      • December 15th 2016 @ 12:09pm
        E-Meter said | December 15th 2016 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

        But Don, who comes in for Dave? What’s the solution?

      • December 16th 2016 @ 12:33am
        doogs said | December 16th 2016 @ 12:33am | ! Report

        Don. Please lay down. Take it easy. Relax. Just breath. Sending one of the top two batsmen for Australia back to grade cricket??? Put the top back on the bottle and rest. You are struggling

    • Roar Guru

      December 15th 2016 @ 9:06am
      Will Sinclair said | December 15th 2016 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      Some balls I’ve been playing at, I probably shouldn’t be,” he said.

      After making this observation, Warner went on to confirm the Pope’s religion, and comment at length on the bathroom habits of bears.

      • December 15th 2016 @ 9:23am
        Don Freo said | December 15th 2016 @ 9:23am | ! Report

        Why this desire to denigrate Warner? I get it from Don Piper…he made the sameoff the mark comment last test…but you, Will?

        What don’t you like?

        • December 15th 2016 @ 9:54am
          Don Piper said | December 15th 2016 @ 9:54am | ! Report

          1. He is poorly spoken
          2. He is a little rough for TV
          3. He isnt a test player, not pedigree of ilk
          4. A wonderful slasher and hacker and ODI player
          5. He needs to keep his trap zipped
          6. I like his haircut
          7. He is a handy fielder
          8. The children of tomorrow
          9. He will probably drink too much Gatorade in this series
          10. He is not a good lockeroom player

          • Columnist

            December 15th 2016 @ 10:09am
            Brett McKay said | December 15th 2016 @ 10:09am | ! Report

            There’s plenty of Test players with ‘pedigree’ and ‘ilk’ with worse records than 4900 Test runs at 48 then, Don..

            • December 15th 2016 @ 10:28am
              Don Piper said | December 15th 2016 @ 10:28am | ! Report

              Brett, name a few.

              If we think of the children of tomorrow then what is left today?

              City sidewalks, remember the time that the children once danced in the street?

              Now the world turns and my heart spurns for the dirt and malice in the feat.

              • Columnist

                December 15th 2016 @ 11:26am
                Brett McKay said | December 15th 2016 @ 11:26am | ! Report


              • December 16th 2016 @ 12:36am
                doogs said | December 16th 2016 @ 12:36am | ! Report

                Don get into rehab. All the best

          • December 15th 2016 @ 10:36am
            Don Freo said | December 15th 2016 @ 10:36am | ! Report

            #5 intrigues me, Mr Piper…are your offerings better examples of erudition?

            • December 15th 2016 @ 11:42am
              jameswm said | December 15th 2016 @ 11:42am | ! Report

              I know! I didn’t read it as having a go at him. You were saying there’s as much chance of Warner playing at balls he shouldn;t1, 2 and 5 are similar. No one called him a genius, but you don’t have to be to be a great player. I’ve played with people with low IQs but high cricket IQs – and the reverse.

              In terms of his ability – here are the top 7 test batsmen in the world. Pretty good to be in the top 10 test batsmen of the last 5 years when you’re only a slasher and hacker.
              1. 897 S.P.D. Smith AUS
              2. 886 V. Kohli IND
              3. 854 J.E. Root ENG
              4. 817 K.S. Williamson NZ
              5. 791 H.M. Amla SA
              6. 778 A.B. de Villiers SA
              7. 772 D.A. Warner AUS

              Based on highest ever ranking of current batsmen, Smith just pips AB for the best bat at their best. Of that 7, Warner and Kohli only got to the 880s at their best. Root and Amla have topped 900. Williamson 890s.

        • Roar Guru

          December 15th 2016 @ 10:44am
          Will Sinclair said | December 15th 2016 @ 10:44am | ! Report

          Wait, no I love Davey Warner!

          Big fan!

          But I think that it’s pretty obvious he has played at balls in Test matches that he should probably have left well alone, and I was just making a little gag about that fact.

          But I’m definitely a fan. Hope to get to see him bat at the Gabba when I am out there over the next couple of days.

          • December 15th 2016 @ 11:59am
            jameswm said | December 15th 2016 @ 11:59am | ! Report

            Don’t ask me how anyone read your comment as a criticism of Warner. We all know he plays at too many outside off.

            I don’t think anyone expected him to do quite as well in tests as he has, except perhaps Davey himself. Look at the batsmen ranked below him: Pujara, Younus Khan, Cook, de Kock, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mathews, Taylor, Khawaja, du Plessis etc. Khawaja is on the rise and his ranking is lower because he hsn’t played enough tests to get to his max ranking.

        • Roar Guru

          December 15th 2016 @ 10:44am
          Will Sinclair said | December 15th 2016 @ 10:44am | ! Report

          If I do have one criticism of Warner, it’s his choice of kid’s names.

          But other than that I am a big fan.

          • December 15th 2016 @ 10:57am
            Don Freo said | December 15th 2016 @ 10:57am | ! Report

            What has he called him/her?

            Will Warner works for me.

            • Roar Guru

              December 15th 2016 @ 12:07pm
              Will Sinclair said | December 15th 2016 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

              He has two daughters – Ivy Mae and Indi Rae.

              And no, I am not making that up.

              • December 15th 2016 @ 12:22pm
                jameswm said | December 15th 2016 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

                Surprised the 1st one wasn’t Bianca Mae – for the initials.

        • December 16th 2016 @ 12:38am
          doogs said | December 16th 2016 @ 12:38am | ! Report

          because Don Piper missed closing time at Chemist Warehouse

    • December 15th 2016 @ 9:19am
      andrew said | December 15th 2016 @ 9:19am | ! Report

      I never got the criticism of Renshaw’s slow pace. When is the last time we didn’t get a result in a test because the run rate was too low? 1984?

    • Roar Guru

      December 15th 2016 @ 9:47am
      Chris Kettlewell said | December 15th 2016 @ 9:47am | ! Report

      Warner is a gun. The number of innings he’s played where he’s looked completely at ease and dominated the attack when every other batsman has seriously struggled is just incredible. He can make it look easy. And he has continually improved his game over the last few years. He would certainly take note that he’s been dismissed way too many times recently nicking off to the slips to balls that he really should have just left alone, and I’m sure he will be working on that. He’s clearly someone who works incredibly hard on his game, continually working to get better.

      • December 15th 2016 @ 10:08am
        Don Piper said | December 15th 2016 @ 10:08am | ! Report


        Warner represents the lowest common denominator in Australian society

        we have a bogan problem in this country, warner is leading the parade

        • Roar Rookie

          December 15th 2016 @ 12:41pm
          Disco Stu said | December 15th 2016 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

          So seeing a bogan put in the effort to excel at a healthy sporting pastime and become successful is a bad thing for our society then???

          If in fact there is a “bogan problem” in our country, you’re seriously suggesting that the best way to handle it would be to tell any talented bogans to stop trying, because we don’t want to see them trying to improve their lot in life…….at least until they’ve had some elocution lessons anyway.

        • Roar Guru

          December 15th 2016 @ 10:12pm
          Chris Kettlewell said | December 15th 2016 @ 10:12pm | ! Report

          Sorry Don, but I can’t agree. Warner represents someone who has actually worked incredibly hard and managed to overcome a poor, housing commission upbringing to rise to the top of international sport. I actually have a lot more respect for him than the type who are born to rich parents, go to the best schools, have every advantage etc. Sure he’s a bit rough around the edges, you don’t come from that sort of background and not be. But in a nation full of snobs who complain about housing commission dole bludgers and how they should just “get a job” we should actually be encouraging people like Warner.

          • December 16th 2016 @ 12:41am
            doogs said | December 16th 2016 @ 12:41am | ! Report

            Chris you seem like a very levelled fellow. I don’t know why you go into such a lengthy response to Don. He is clearly insane. But very nice of you

        • December 16th 2016 @ 12:40am
          doogs said | December 16th 2016 @ 12:40am | ! Report

          I really think you represent the lowest common demoninator in society

        • December 16th 2016 @ 12:45am
          doogs said | December 16th 2016 @ 12:45am | ! Report

          you are a bogan. Maybe Warner was a bogan at some point. But he progressed spectacularly. You have gone nowhere

      • Columnist

        December 15th 2016 @ 10:38am
        Brett McKay said | December 15th 2016 @ 10:38am | ! Report

        Chris, I thought that comment was really interestingly timed – Warner didn’t say anything about that shot he played in Perth at the time, but this, to me, was him acknowledging that he’s got to put that kind of rubbish decision-making away. I very deliberately used the word ‘maturing’ – I think the realisation as arrived that Warner knows he’s got to start playing like the senior play he is..

    • December 15th 2016 @ 11:18am
      Brasstacks said | December 15th 2016 @ 11:18am | ! Report

      ““Him leaving the ball on good areas may actually relay a message to me that there’s a bit of movement in the wicket and I have to start respecting it a little bit more and watch it closely.”

      So according to Warner, if his batting partner does not leave too many balls there is no movement? That is the dumbest thing I have heard any respected international cricketer say.

      • Roar Rookie

        December 15th 2016 @ 11:38am
        Dogs Boddy said | December 15th 2016 @ 11:38am | ! Report

        To be fair I think Davie is a reactive player.

        He doesn’t seem to really watch too much and relies on way above average reflexes and power. That could be why he gets into so much trouble when there is movement, he’s not really looking for it.

      • December 15th 2016 @ 5:00pm
        madmonk said | December 15th 2016 @ 5:00pm | ! Report

        I couldn’t work out if it was a compliment or criticism of his partner.

        I think he is saying “that juicy one 6 inches outside off that he just let go, I would’ve taken that through cover on the rise. But maybe despite me not seeing anything go off the straight, this young buck is seeing it better than me and in fact it really is hooping around, so maybe I should be careful.”‘

        My advice to DW is, you have never given the impression that you are overthinking it out there. Don’t start now!!

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