David Warner - From limited-overs specialist to established Test opener
Journey of pocket-sized cricketer from Australia, David Andrew Warner, from being a typical limited-overs specialist to a vital cog in the Test team is no less than a dream. A batsman who broke into the national team in limited-overs cricket without playing a single first-class match (becoming the first Australian to do so in 132 years), Warner had to wait for two long years to play his maiden Test match, that too as a replacement for injured all-rounder Shane Watson in 2011.
That could be a reason why Warner probably values the baggy green more than most of his teammates.
However, the diminutive cricketer didn’t take much time to prove his Test credentials as he slammed a ton in his debut series against New Zealand by playing an unbeaten knock of 123 with a strike rate of 72.35. Though, his heroics went in vain as Australia lost the match by 7 wickets. But the opener soon consolidated his position in the Test side by slamming another ton (180) within a month, which came against India at WACA, Perth, in his fifth Test. After that, the southpaw suffered a huge slump in form.
The adage "failure teaches us more than success" seems quite appropriate for the left-hander as the aggressive batsman faced a torrid time in 2013.
A year when his bat hardly did any talking, especially in Test cricket, his on-and-off the field antics made life miserable for the 28-year-old. From facing a two-match suspension for punching English cricketer Joe Root, to being dropped from the ODI team in England and paying a fine over a Twitter spat with two journalists – Warner certainly had a forgettable time. In all, it made temperamental Warner so depressed and apprehensive that he had to do some introspection and serious discussion with his family regarding his future as an Australian cricketer.
After going through a lean patch for a significant time in 2013, the fighter bounced back with a bang. The left-hander was a catalyst alongside speedster Mitchell Johnson in the return Ashes, not just to clean-sweep (5-0) bitter rivals England in the series but also to take Australia on the path of resurgence.
He smashed two Test centuries against England and remained the highest run-getter from either side. He then carried forward his sublime form to the most hyped Test series against South Africa in the rainbow nation. It was a battle of attrition as the top two Test nations were up against each other.
The explosive batsman left no stone unturned and gave one of the most fearsome bowling attacks in the world, a run for their money. The swashbuckling opener hit three Test tons in the three-match series, which Australia won 2-1. By capturing the series, Australia also became the top ranked Test team in ICC Rankings.
Then came the series against Pakistan in UAE, where conditions were rather different and very challenging. There too, the in-form Warner came up with yet another scintillating ton at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium and proved that he is class performer, who can bat in any condition and against any opposition. A ton against Pakistan also made him the only Australian in the post-Bradman era to score three centuries in consecutive Test innings after Adam Gilchrist.
If I have to pick a batsman of the year, then it has to be the pocket sized dynamo. He has been in imperial form throughout the year and his glorious run with the bat still continues.
The Australian has already scored two consecutive tons in the opening Test against India at Adelaide Oval. These two knocks not just displayed his sheer hunger for runs in the longest format but also showed his mental and psychological strength as well, as these hundreds came immediately after the sad demise of Phillip Hughes.
Warner was at the other end of the wicket during that freak on-field accident and he was the one who accompanied Hughes to the hospital in the ambulance. As a friend and teammate, it was a fitting tribute by the hard-hitting batman to his opening partner.
This year, Australia have played seven Tests with David Warner slamming six hundreds and three fifties with an incredible batting average of above 75. He is now the spine of Australian batting and most importantly the future of Australian cricket, in all forms of the game.
A proven match-winner, Warner certainly is the rarest of rare breeds. After his limited-overs exploits, Warner has certainly made a name for himself in Test cricket as well. It’s indeed a remarkable journey for the swashbuckling batsman from being a limited-overs specialist to a mainstay in the Australian Test line up.