Since returning to international cricket after his 12-month ban David Warner has churned out 1,518 runs at 72 across all formats.
Even considering his woeful Ashes, that amounts to a resounding success.
For many years now far too much importance has been placed on the Ashes and performances in those series. It is a contest which has great history and theatre. But it is not the be-all and end-all as many fans and pundits from both England and Australia seem to believe.
Even in the wake of Warner’s phenomenal 335* against Pakistan in Adelaide yesterday there was an overwhelming amount of salty, disrespectful responses from cricket followers. Look at any social media post about the Aussie opener’s remarkable feat and you will see an endless stream of comments like: “Hopeless flat-track bully”, “Who cares he flopped in the Ashes”, “More meaningless runs in home conditions” and on and on.
Such statement are drivel, nothing more than mean-spirited nonsense. In 142 years of Test cricket, only nine men have ever made more in an innings than Warner’s goliath score yesterday.
Had he been afforded more time to bat, Warner would have been a strong chance of going on to break Brian Lara’s record score of 400*.
Now, obviously context matters and Pakistan bowled poorly across the Australian innings. But they also boasted the world’s best Test leg spinner Yasir Shah and a seamer in Mohammad Abbas who came into this Test with a record of 66 wickets at 19, and who tore Australia apart in the UAE a year ago with 17 wickets at 10.
The 198cm left armer Shaheen Afridi, meanwhile, is one of the most talented young cricketers on the planet and has bowled beautifully in this series. The supposed road on which Warner feasted didn’t look so flat once the Australian quicks were swinging and seaming the ball around last night.
Yes, Warner was reduced to rubble in the Ashes by Stuart Broad. It was a shocking performance by such an experienced Test batsman.
But that was also a horror contest for opening batsmen from both sides, with England’s Rory Burns the only opener to make more than 170 runs in the series. Jason Roy, Marcus Harris and Cameron Bancroft combined to average 11 with the bat from their 18 innings in the Ashes.
Many cricket followers over-reacted to Warner’s awful Ashes to such an extreme that they said he should not be picked for this series against Pakistan. Forget that he had an imperious Test record in Australia, not to mention the dearth of other opening options.
All of a sudden, for droves of fans, the Ashes was all that mattered. Well, it’s not. Australia do not play Tests in England again for another three-and-a-half years. That 2022 series is irrelevant right now.
What is actually important is that Australia bounce back from their home defeat to India last year by beating Pakistan in this series and then the dangerous New Zealand next month.
What is actually important is that Australia win every Test possible over the next 18 months to qualify for the World Test Championship Final in England in June 2021. What is actually important is that Australia work their way back up the ODI rankings and also win their first T20 World Cup in slightly less than a year from now.
Warner is central to Australia’s hopes of achieving all of these aims. He was outstanding in the 2019 ODI World Cup, finishing as the second-highest scorer in the tournament with 647 runs at 72. Warner was also the leading runscorer in this year’s IPL before crunching 287 runs for just one dismissal in Australia six T20Is this summer.
In Tests he’s managed to overcome his nightmare Ashes to destroy Pakistan with 154 and 335* in his two knocks so far. Granted, conditions have been far easier and his opponents weaker than in the Ashes. But scoring 489 runs for just one dismissal is phenomenally difficult to achieve in Tests, regardless of conditions or opposition.
The same way his run-hoarding in this series shouldn’t erase his Ashes failure, Warner’s shocker in England shouldn’t take away from what he has achieved against Pakistan.
Forget the Ashes, for just a while, and savour what has been a towering performance from one of the best Test openers in Australian history. If churning out 335* in a Test was so elementary then we would have seen it bettered more than just nine times in the past 142 years.