Patient Warner turns over new leaf
Great defender: David Warner was unusually subdued in the Third Test against the West Indies. Photo: AFP
DAVID Warner has seldom batted for so long for so few runs, but the former Twenty20 specialist is evolving his game away from the glare of Australia.
The man who burst onto the Test scene last summer with a match-winning century in Perth is now trying to become a more resilient batsman who is better equipped to handle all aspects of his role as an opener.
Warner can become restless if he does not regularly send the ball blazing to the rope, but he is quickly learning he can make important contributions even when he is not scoring freely.
Leading up to this Test, Warner’s longest innings this series lasted 55 balls, limiting him to cameo roles. But yesterday he dug in for nearly 3 hours — his longest stay at the crease apart from his two tons — to grind a half-century that was as important as it was ugly.
Not able to use the fast pace he is accustomed to on Australian wickets or being fully rewarded for his shots by a lightning quick outfield, Warner was forced to find a new way to prosper.
‘‘It’s something Darren Sammy [West Indies captain] reminded me of out there, it’s not the way I play, but they’re the kind of wickets where it’s all about patience,’’ said Warner, who made 50 off 136 balls. ‘‘I’m still learning that, learning the game. This is my ninth Test, and my first tour out of Australia.
‘‘In Australia it’s coming onto the bat a lot easier, they’re running away for four, especially in Perth, it’s only basically Adelaide Oval and the MCG where you really have to run for your shots.
‘‘I was hitting good shots to mid-off but they weren’t going anywhere off the square because it seemed a little dusty surface where the ball doesn’t kick on.
‘‘Whereas in Australia it skids off the square. They’re the things I’ve got to keep in mind, particularly our running between the wickets.’’
Warner said developing more patience was his next goal as it would not only allow him to play the epic innings that Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting both produced against India at the SCG, but also leave him better placed to handle conditions abroad.
‘‘With my game moving forward we’ve got Tests in Australia, then the Indians in India. It’s something I’ve got to adapt to. I’ve got to bat long periods of time, that’s my job as an opener,’’ he said. ‘‘And I’ve got to keep working towards that and that’s perfect experience for me here, the ball’s turning, and bowling stump to stump it’s going to be harder for me to score.’’
Matthew Hayden used the sweep shot to great effect against off-spin, especially on the subcontinent, and Warner is now aiming to play that shot more, particularly on slower wickets.
‘‘I do usually sweep, but in Australia ... I don’t need to sweep,’’ Warner said. ‘‘You can sweep if you want but I find it a high-risk shot in Australia because the ball skids on. When the wickets turn you’ve got to try to hit down on the ball, and I’m hitting against the spin as well.
‘‘This is a perfect example where you see patience works in your favour. You want to bring the fast bowlers back from their third or fourth spells, you know these guys aren’t going to be able to bowl all day, and you’ll get your runs somewhere.
‘‘I’m learning that at the moment, and I’m very comfortable and happy how I’m going.’’