If you've flipped through the back pages of an Australian newspaper the last two months, the chances of finding the word saviour and David Warner in the same sentence would have been greater than flop and Indian batting. Hard to believe then, that, the man who struck two unforgettable centuries in his first five Tests was mostly dismissed as a limited-overs specialist, even prior to the start of this season. A belief reflected in the fact that he hadn't played even 10 first-class games before the season began.
Eastern Suburbs secretary, Glen McCanna, has seen Warner's transformation from a ‘pest’ to Australia's ‘saviour’. Speaking to HT, he shared Warner's early experiences, when he was more Shane Warne than Virender Sehwag. “He was a little pest when he first came here. He'd follow his brother, Steve, who also plays for us, around. We always knew he was special though. I remember once when he was hitting the ball in the air too often, the coach asked him to switch from lefty to righty. Just to prove a point, he scored a hundred as a right-hander, and soon was back playing as a left-hander,” said McCanna.
“Even up to the time when he played in the U-19 World Cup, he would bat lower down the order, and most of his time was spent trying to perfect his leg-breaks.”
Steve, a plumber, recalls another incident soon afterwards, when Warner was sent back from Cricket Australia's Centre of Excellence in Brisbane. “He was sent back for disciplinary reasons (his room was too messy). I had a long chat with him and asked him to 'clean up' his act or be prepared to join me in the plumbing business,” said Steve, who is five years elder.
The speech worked… and how.
Before he could play a single first-class match, Warner already won an Australia cap, albeit in a T20 international. Even then his appetite for destruction was apparent as he hammed 89 off 43 balls against South Africa.
For a long time after that he was disparagingly classified as a T20 specialist, even though his methods included smart shot selection and execution. As he says, “If it pitches in my zones… my areas, I'll go for it.”
Ask him about his areas, and his words still come across as unsure. Out in the middle though, if it's there to be hit, Warner will hit it irrespective of the format. That, you can be sure of!