Focused ... David Warner says Phillip Hughes won't be haunted by recollections of Hobart, where the second incarnation of his Test career unravelled. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
IT'S almost a year to the day since David Warner played the most character-revealing and necessary innings of his young career. Not the awe-inspiring 180 from 159 balls that obliterated India at the WACA Ground; not the similarly frenetic 119 from 112 that put South Africa's world-beating bowlers to the sword in Adelaide.
Warner's hundred in Hobart last December was a different beast. Painstakingly compiled and with his team's chances resting on his shoulders, the NSW left-hander spent more than five hours in the middle in his survival act on a wicket greener than his own Test career.
With an unbeaten 123 he carried his bat, a rarity for any opener let alone the free-swinging Warner, but in running out of partners, Australia fell just short, a seven-run defeat to New Zealand confirmed on the fourth afternoon when Nathan Lyon was bowled by Kiwi hero Doug Bracewell for nine.
While Michael Clarke's side left the Apple Isle with tails between legs, Warner could hold his head high. That innings, in only his second Test, proved more than any other that he was not simply the one-speed wonder his Twenty20 showmanship for Australia had made him out to be.
Warner, 26, flies into Hobart on Monday, for the first Test against Sri Lanka, starting on Friday, with happy memories.
''Obviously, it was my first hundred and that was a game that I'll always remember because we were so close there at the end,'' he said. ''But it's a new game, a new series and a new opponent.''
A year on at Bellerive Oval, Warner has a different opening partner, Ed Cowan, while his offsider from that humbling by New Zealand, Phillip Hughes, is back in the Australian line-up for the first time since being dropped after that match.
Warner and Cowan have both made Test centuries this summer - in Adelaide and Brisbane respectively - and justified their places. The only missing piece of the puzzle has been a general inability to pile on runs at the same time. Warner says Australia's new-look top order, with Hughes almost certainly to bat at No.3 and Shane Watson to fill Ricky Ponting's shoes at No.4, must arrest their reliance on Clarke and Michael Hussey to pick up the pieces.
''Me and Ed, we're in a good space at the moment. They've told us where we are,'' Warner said. ''We always look forward to batting with each other and we're playing down at Hobart, Ed's home ground. We've both had success there and we're looking forward to going out there and hopefully it's a good wicket for us.
''If we can get the most out of [Watson] bowling, it's going to be fantastic for him to get that little extra rest if me, Ed and Phil can fill that spot up there and hopefully score some runs for us. Hopefully we put those 50 to 100-run partnerships on so the middle-order guys can get a rest and not just rely on Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey's fantastic form this summer, so far.''
Warner is adamant that Hughes, his former state colleague, will not be haunted by his own recollections of Hobart, when the second incarnation of his Test career unravelled at the hands of veteran New Zealand seamer Chris Martin.
''I spoke to him in Adelaide and he's been hitting the ball as well as he has been, he said. He said if he ever got the call-up again he'd be ready to go,'' Warner said. ''He's worked hard in the off-season and obviously scored a lot of runs over in England and coming here and now being the leading run-scorer for Shield cricket. We know what Phil is like. When he scores hundreds, he scores big hundreds and that's exactly what we need for the Test team.
''He's the type of character that comes in and he fits in straight away. He knows what his job is and that's exactly what he's going to do.''