David Andrew Warner. A cricketer who’d never played a first-class game when chosen to play T20 cricket for his country, then one-day cricket –and finally Test matches.
Four or five years ago the mention of his name conjured visions of a guy totally capable of destroying opposition Test attacks in a single session.
He rated 880 on the ICC rankings list, good enough for third in 2014. It would still be good enough for third today, but things have changed.
Mention Warner’s name in 2019 and a range of thoughts run through one’s mind: his involvement in the incident that led to his suspension from international cricket for a year, his return to cricket, his brilliance in the IPL, his centuries in the World Cup and, more recently, his string of failures in the Ashes.
Not so long ago his name would have been the first one written on any Australian Test team list. Now he’s relying on ‘runs in the bank’ and the support of his coach. On the reverse is the head of selectors, who is not willing to concede he will play in Brisbane next month against Pakistan.
Runs in the bank – what an interesting expression for Tim Paine to use when describing Dave Warner’s position in the Test side. He’s obviously implying that Warner’s previous excellent Test record makes him safe (as a bank) to play in the first Test.
Like Warner, Australian banks haven’t been too safe in recent times. Royal commissions and a variety of ‘interesting’ practices have made people question just how safe our banks really are.
Frailties have been exposed in the banks, but they are no doubt working hard to eliminate bad habits and practices and win back the support of the average Australian.
Warner too has had to face and overcome his frailties. The first step he took was weathering the storm of criticism levelled at him over his involvement in the ball-tampering incident in South Africa. The barrage of abuse he received in England was offset somewhat by his batting in the World Cup. Here was a guy who’d expressed remorse and was showing the world what a talent he was at the head of the order.
Sadly, though, that form deserted him in the Ashes series, and he must have used up a lot of capital in the bank just to have played ten innings.
Since returning to first-class cricket Warner has either added or subtracted from his balance, depending on how you view his innings to date.
His century in his first four-day game at home against a quality attack on a pitch doing a bit was far from vintage Dave Warner, but no doubt Paine and the selectors would have breathed a sigh of relief. Warner was back, no need to worry about his position; let’s find someone to partner with him in Brisbane.
His second-innings duck, out in similar fashion as some of his Ashes dismissals, followed by a frustrated slash to be out for one in his next innings must have had those who make selection decisions rethinking his position in the team.
One thing is clear: just as the Australian banks will never be the same, so too will Dave Warner never be that young, brash, pugnacious batsman who stared down some of cricket’s best attacks.
Warner is still a young man and is probably one of the fittest players in Australian cricket. Justin Langer pointed out we should never write off a champion player, and Warner’s Test record over the past eight years suggests he’s certainly that.
Unlike the Australian banks, though, Warner doesn’t have any sort of guarantee of a future. He needs to prove to us all he’s a safe bet for that opening spot. His currency over the next game or two has to be runs, runs and more runs, not streaky, lucky or flashy runs. He just needs good old-fashioned opening-batsman runs.
Just as we need the Australian banks to survive, so too do we need an in-form David Warner at the top of the order. Not only could he help us challenge India at the top of the Test pile when he’s slamming the ball to all parts, but he also makes Test cricket exciting, and that’s what we all want to see.