The Roar
The Roar


David Warner is a victim of his own success

Can Davey claw back some respectability by taking on Rabada? (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Roar Pro
2nd April, 2017
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Some say David Warner should not be picked for Australia’s Test team in sub-continental conditions.

They point to the following facts: Warner averaged 24 in the recently-finished series in India, he struggled in Sri Lanka last year and his average away from home over his career is 37, about 23 lower than his average at home.

The general argument is that Warner simply cannot adapt to sub-continental pitches.

My view is Warner is an automatic selection wherever Australia plays. Further, he’s probably the best opener in world cricket.

First, to attack the critics’ arguments. I agree averaging mid-20s is simply not good enough at Test level. Looking at the India series, though, it appears Warner has been unfairly targeted. Let’s compare Warner’s series to two players the media suggested had encouraging tours: Peter Handscomb and Matt Renshaw.

I agree that Renshaw and Handscomb showed great promise but both hardly outperformed Warner. Renshaw made 30 more runs than Warner over the series and Handscomb made three more. Both averaged just under 30.

They are cut more slack than Warner for two reasons: their inexperience and their more conservative approach to the game. Statistically, their performances were very similar to Warner’s yet they did not cop any of the criticism.

Australian batsman Peter Handscomb


The youth argument to me does not have legs. I expect Renshaw and Handscomb will improve after this series in India but why won’t Warner too? Do people stop improving after they turn 30?

Warner has constantly worked on his game and improved it. That’s why he averages nearly 50 in Test cricket, despite having critics since he first made a name for himself. Let’s not forget many people said he would never be good enough for Test cricket when he first started as a Twenty20 specialist.

You only need to cast your mind back to the improvement shown by Australia’s last great opening batsmen, Mattew Hayden and Justin Langer, to see examples of players who were written off in their mid-20s, and then again in their early 30s, but kept improving and developing. The best players keep improving parts of their game over time.

Warner has a history of doing this too. Not long ago, his one-day cricket average was in the mid-30s and critics, like the ones circling today, suggested he should be dropped from the international team. Eventually talent won out and he is now one of the best one-day batsmen in the world, averaging in the mid-40s.

There is no obvious technical reason why Warner cannot make runs in the sub-continent. Certainly I’m not anywhere near well qualified enough to pick them up.

Some experts say his technique does not hold up to quality spin. My only comment on this is there is an incredibly long history of world class batsmen whose techniques were clearly more flawed than Warner’s.

Warner, also, has only played four Test series in the sub-continent and he did average nearly 60 in one of them. Furthermore, he led his team to the IPL trophy last year on the back of some magnificent batting. Warner has proven he is capable of delivering in the sub-continent, even if he has not done it often enough at this stage.


The argument over Warner’s style is a permanent one. Some critics just aren’t comfortable with an opener who will go out playing aggressively more often than their taste. The trade-off is obviously the dominant position Warner often puts Australia in, which would not be possible if he batted more ‘normally’.

With players like Warner you have to take the good with the bad if you select him. He will occasionally frustrate you just as he can astonish you.

To me, his style is a massive plus. It means a young promising opener like Renshaw, who does not score freely at the start of his innings, can play at his natural pace, knowing runs on the board will never be an issue. He will never feel pressure to play a shot when Warner is at the other end. Warner’s aggression can also cause bowlers to lose their rhythm.

The argument that Warner should be dropped in the sub-continent runs out of steam when comparing him to the alternatives. There simply are not any.

Australia's batsman David Warner celebrates his unbeaten century during day three of the first Ashes cricket Test match between England and Australia at the Gabba. AFP PHOTO / Patrick Hamilton

Saying Warner’s average away from home is not good enough is perhaps valid but it’s better than Renshaw’s and Usman Khawaja’s, and very similar to Shaun Marsh’s. Is there an opening batsman in Australia more likely to perform in the sub-continent than Warner? I can’t think of any.

Given his proven ability over 60 Test matches, I would be surprised if Warner doesn’t dominate a series in the sub-continent one day.


Comparing Warner against the best openers in world cricket is interesting too. Azhar Ali has a similar overall average of 47. His strike rate is nearly half of Warner’s though, which means even when he bats well, his team is less likely to win a match because he soaks up so many deliveries. He also puts more pressure on his partners to score quickly.

Ali had a great tour of Australia recently but he too struggles overseas in general. He averages 58 in the UAE but 33 or less in each of South Africa, England and New Zealand. I’d take Warner over Ali because of his positivity and also the fact he is one of the best fielders in the game.

Alastair Cook has been a legend of the game for a decade but, again, I’d take Warner due to his aggression and fielding. Warner also has a marginally higher career average. Cook has an away average that is slightly higher than his home average, which is a testament to his ability to bat all over the world. He has a couple or unhappy stomping grounds too, though, averaging low 30s in South Africa and New Zealand.

Warner is statistically one of the best openers in the game right now. I would rate him as the number one because of the impact his positivity has on matches. He has been proving critics wrong his whole career – he’s not going to stop now.

I can’t wait to see him dominate the next series Australia has in the sub-continent.