David Warner sent another emphatic message to Australian selectors with a terrific hundred against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL.
The ton was Warner’s third consecutive score above 50 in recent matches, with scores of 85 and 69 preceding this knock. What has been so eye-catching about this new Warner has been the way that he has scored his runs.
Oft-regarded as a tremendously talented player, fans were often left to believe that a significant portion of Warner’s effectiveness lay in his brute strength.
Warner hasn’t lost much of that in his 12-month hiatus from top-level cricket, though he has looked a little within himself with his elbow injury probably playing a part.
He cleared the boundary five times and it was particularly pleasing to see that a number of these maximums – including a glorious six back over the head of Umesh Yadav – were not clubbed mercilessly to the fence, but rather were caressed with terrific timing.
Warner wasn’t just relying on his strength – he was playing really good shots to balls that weren’t that bad.
The five times he found the rope were just as pleasing on the eye.
We’d become accustomed to reading descriptions of Warner’s ‘crashing boundaries’, with the implication that they were largely a product of sheer strength such that the fielders couldn’t react fast enough.
The new Warner seemed to pierce the gaps in the manner and with the sort of precise timing that would make a purist salivate.
Maybe it’s maturity, maybe it’s the realisation of his own mortality brought on by the suspension, maybe it’s playing around his injury, but whatever it is, it’s really something to behold.
The other truly incredible thing about Warner’s knock was his running between the wickets.
Warner’s energy at the crease and quickness between the wickets could help him slot in at No.4 or No.5 at the World Cup.
In 40-degree heat, he hit 13 twos, and during fellow opener Jonny Bairstow’s innings, he ran another three three twos. He also hit 24 singles and ran 18 singles for Bairstow, meaning he sprinted the length of the pitch about 58 times for a total of 1160 metres.
Combine this with the style of his boundaries and it seems like post-suspension Warner is a much more canny cricketer than his predecessor.
He’s tactically astute, playing really good cricket shots, and his ability to find the gap and turn ones into twos with his running between the wickets is better than anyone in world cricket at the moment.
For me, perhaps the most important moment came in the post-match interview. When asked by Kevin Pietersen about his hundred, Warner merely smiled and instead offered praise of his fellow opener and sworn English enemy Jonny Bairstow.
David Warner is a changed man, and I say that after being a vocal critic over the last 12 months, believing he will never earn forgiveness from the Australian public.
The IPL is the best forum in which he can show that he’s changed.
He’s supporting the youngsters around him in Hyderabad, and was last night farming the strike to let the free-wheeling Bairstow keep hitting.
His local fans love him, with chants of “Warner! Warner!” ringing around the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium last night.
He couldn’t have been given a better stage if he’d tried.
These are not things that we expect from the usually fiery Warner, and it shows that he really is a new man.
The cynics will remain and say that he’s just putting it on, but as a wise man once said, if it walks like a duck, it looks like a duck, and it talks like a duck, then odds are that it’s a duck.
David Warner 2.0 is the real deal, and it’s time he was properly forgiven by the Australian public.