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A long knock played in double-quick time

india Updated: Jan 15, 2012 00:59 IST
Ian Chappell
Ian Chappell
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

David-Warner-of-Australia-celebrates-reaching-100-runs-during-the-third-cricket-Test-match-against-India-at-the-WACA-in-Perth-Reuters-Photo

So much for all the talk about David Warner being a Test player, he proved at the WACA he's a 20-over specialist.


It's what he does; he's made back-to-back centuries in the Champions League and a hundred in the Big Bash League, both T20 competitions. His latest century also took him 20 overs but this time it was in a Test match and against the new-ball bowlers of a team that was recently ranked number one in the world. Now, that really is some 20-over specialist.

That's what makes Warner special; his batting is attuned to T20 cricket but it translates into the Test match arena because he has the skill to compete at that level and the nerve to play his natural game. His innings at the WACA was like something out of a movie - a Warner Brothers flick.

The irony of his knock was that it was played in front of Virender Sehwag, a man who told Warner he'd be a better player in Test cricket because the close fielding positions would suit his aggressive style. Seeing Warner play in such a manner should encourage a struggling Sehwag to revert to that type of batting in the concluding Test.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/15_01_pg-22a.jpg

Breaking records
Warner's belligerent century demoralised an already flustered Indian side. The diminutive cricketer reminded me of the flamboyant West Indies opener, Roy Fredericks, who thrashed a hundred in 1975-76 in just 71 balls. Warner beat that incredible performance by two balls.

Another West Indies opener, this one more on the burly side, Chris Gayle, bludgeoned a hundred off just 70 balls at the WACA. Gayle hit a monstrous six that travelled 104 metres but he did it off a spinner. Warner, the muscled marauder, beat Gayle to the century by a ball and managed to hit one of the Indian fast bowlers a massive 98 metres into the stands.

These blistering centuries stand out because the batsmen concerned were openers facing international new-ball attacks. That takes as much nerve as skill. Then there was another innings, which 37 years on is still etched in Australian cricket folklore.

Dashing Doug Walters hit a six off the last ball at the WACA in 1974-75 to complete a century in the session of an Ashes Test match. It wasn't the last ball of the day but Warner reproduced that drama when he clouted Vinay Kumar for a six to bring up his electrifying century.

Entertainmenthttp://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/15_01_pg-22b.jpg

The reception Warner received when the ball landed over the ropes was one reserved for batsmen who play with entertainment uppermost in their mind no matter the form of the game. His response to the applause was full off emotion and fuelled by the adrenaline required to play an innings of such adventurous audacity.

Many cricketers have received a standing ovation for their performance but Warner is one of the rare ones who has experienced an outpouring of unbridled joy at the pleasure of witnessing something extra special. Warner is a gifted player, to be mentioned in the same breath as Walters, Fredericks, Gayle and also Adam Gilchrist. Two centuries in five Tests is an incredibly good start to an international career. Warner has already experienced an unbelievable high in scoring a Test century not just in a session but also from only 20 overs.

He'll have other days where things are not so good and there'll be occasions when he questions his method of playing. I just hope, on those occasions, he recalls that century at the WACA and the memory also remains vivid in the selectors' minds. That innings was Test cricket as you rarely see it; a long knock played in a short time.