Before a new series, most batsmen provide a clue about their approach. For David Warner, that clue was durability.
On the eve of the first Test against Pakistan in Brisbane, Warner did something that was a bit peculiar – he batted for more than an hour in the nets. It was unusual and different from his regular routine. Two days later, Warner faced 296 balls, scored 154 and batted for seven hours. The new outlook was working. So he decided to repeat it again in Adelaide. The result — a triple hundred.
Warner’s marathon knock of 335 not out is the second-highest score for Australia in Tests. He became the first player to register a triple century at the iconic Adelaide Oval and only the seventh Australian cricketer to surpass the 300 run mark. But for the man himself, the statistic that would give him immense satisfaction is the ‘nine hours’ he spent in the middle.
Occupying the crease for a long time and accumulating runs has never been his strength. After all, he is a product of the T20 format who forayed into the Test arena. His theory was simple — time was secondary, runs were primary. But a nightmare Ashes campaign led to a change in mentality. The torrid time in England made him focus on durability.
Insanely good! 💪
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) November 30, 2019
One of the first focus points was to become patient. For that, he had to leave the ball and still find inner peace. On the first day, he left 53 balls out of 228, nearly one in four. It was a further indication of his concentration and his ability to resist the temptation of being lured into a false stroke.
“It is probably the best I’ve left,” Warner said at stumps on Day 1. “I’ve really tried to be a bit more patient and really wait for it. The last two games I’ve actually shown myself I can do that and I’m capable of doing that. I’m just really proud of how good my defence was tonight.”
If Day 1 was about patience, Day 2 would be about endurance. Warner has always been a fitness freak, having worked with some of the most high profile trainers in Australia. But ever since meeting his wife, Candice Falzon, an ironwoman champion, he has taken his work-out routine to a different level. On Saturday, all those gym sessions bore fruit as he changed gears by pushing the ball into the gap and sprinting between the wickets.
Warner has always been a bludgeoner rather than caresser. However, in Adelaide, he turned the tide. While he did smash 40 boundaries, 173 of his runs came in form of singles, twos or threes.
Warner ran 301 runs for himself and his partners, meaning a running distance of approximately seven kilometres. Add to that the concentration, the pink ball, batting in the twilight and the fight to regain respect.
Ever since the ball-tampering saga, Warner has always been the villain in the public eye. He was the instigator, the bad boy and the bandit. His failure in the Ashes further enhanced those negative perceptions. Deep down Warner knew the only way to change it was to let his bat do the talking.
The resurrection started in the Gabba nets. After 78 Tests, Warner decided to change his preparation. Gone were the short ‘feel good’ batting sessions. In came the long ‘battling’ sessions.
Perhaps, for the first time in his career, Warner had faced more deliveries in the nets than Steve Smith. Fair to say, all those long hours enabled Warner to transform his batting and to win hearts of the Australian public.
By the time Warner swivelled back and pulled Mohammad Abbas through wide mid-on, the on-lookers in the stands all rose at once and applauded non-stop for three long minutes. Warner’s reaction said it all. At first, he let out a roar. Then came the familiar leap of joy followed by the kiss of the helmet. For Warner, the defining moment came when he had to bow down and acknowledge the ovation. He had won.
Forget the records, the statistics, the numbers, the preparation and the innings for a second, it is the respect that Warner will relish the most. It has taken him 20 long months to win the respect of his fellow Australians. If ever there was a way to win back the people's admiration, Warner has shown the way to do it.
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