Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - The return of 'The Bull'. Warner guided Australia's chase against Sri Lanka with a 42-ball 65.
Warner guided Australia's chase against Sri Lanka with a 42-ball 65.
It wasn't the first time David Warner had batted without any headgear on. In some ways, you hope he did it more often, especially in white-ball cricket. For, there are few batters in world cricket who seem to live out every delivery of their innings as expressively as the dynamic Australian opener. And considering there's generally a lot of theatre whenever Warner is batting, his face almost turns into a screen that allows us to live every ball he faces with him.
Those close to Warner though believe there was a bit more to him baring his head against Sri Lanka than the humidity and heat in Dubai on Friday (October 28). It was his way, they say, of reminding himself to be “the bull”. To get himself into the battle. A signal that he was ready to take on the world.
This wasn't so much a battle against the opposition. The Sri Lankans hadn't started too well with their defence of a relatively moderate total. And Warner had struck a couple of meaty boundaries off the seamers, just like he had against the South Africans. But like with the slice to point off Kagiso Rabada, the feisty left-hander had nearly managed to give his wicket away in a rather tepid fashion to Dushmantha Chameera, getting a glove to a length delivery while attempting to help it around the corner. And he'd survived only courtesy one of the more incredible dropped catches from wicketkeeper Kusal Perera, that let not only his team down but also umpire Richard Illingworth who had to awkwardly abort his rather pre-empted out signal.
Warner was on 18 and the helmet came off not long after. It did help that the Lankans had also brought their spinners on to bowl in tandem. The reprieve was perhaps exactly the breakaway that Warner had been seeking. Not just in this innings but maybe right since the start of the ill-fated run for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in what you'd assume was his final season with the franchise that he embraced so earnestly. His batting form after all has been among the most-discussed topics around Australian cricket circles in 2021, right up there perhaps with the whole hullabaloo around the Ashes.
But Warner did have a point when he laughed it off on the eve of this match. It is a fact that we hadn't really seen enough of Warner to make a call on what kind of form he really was in. He'd either not spent enough time at the crease or not been given the chance to do so. And the more time he was out there in Dubai, the more he looked like the Warner we've all come to know in white-ball cricket. You could see it in the way he was using his feet. You could see it in the way he was scampering up and down the pitch for runs. And you could certainly see it in the speed with which he was picking the short of length deliveries and jumping on them with evil intentions. You could also see how into the battle he was when he started giving umpire Illingworth a crash-course on the no-ball law from the non-striker's end after Chameera landed a ball off the pitch area.
There's no holding back with Warner. Like him or hate him, you know what you're going to get. He's among the most unadulterated cricketers in the world. And that's what makes watching him in the middle with no cover on even more fascinating. His feelings towards a certain delivery come through very vividly in his facial expressions. You'll see a look of disdain for the ball on his face every time he's about to dispatch a slightly shorter delivery. There'll also be the occasional look of admiration for both ball and bowler, even if the Lankans didn't give him too many chances to produce one of those on Friday. It was also apt that he should bring up his first half-century in a while and acknowledge the cheers from his dressing-room with no helmet or cap on. The wide grin was also a warning to those who are to come next.
The way in which he was putting himself out there was also symptomatic of the way Australia have approached this T20 WC so far. They've laid out their cards on the table and decided to back their hand. Even if not many have given them a chance or really agree with their plans going in.
They've accepted the fact that the fifth bowler is a problem area for them. But chose to make up for it with the depth in their batting. They've accepted that Steve Smith might not finish too many games for them, but they've chosen to back their premier all-format batter to set the game up for their finishers, if not bail them out of a muddle. They've decided to back their world-class, world-beating Test pace attack, even if Kane Richardson may have come into the tournament as a better T20 bowler than even a Josh Hazlewood or a Pat Cummins. They've also backed their veteran opening combination of Warner and captain Aaron Finch, despite them not having fired in unison – or played together too much – for nearly 12 months.
And the game against the mighty English later tonight (October 30) couldn't have come at a better time. That too in an Ashes year, and with the first Test of that series just over a month away. It'll be a clash of the table-toppers, the only two unbeaten sides left in their group. In a way, it could also set the tone for the next three months, not just for Australia but also for their talismanic opener.
This will be no payback for the 2019 Ashes. There will be no Stuart Broad running in off an angle from around the wicket. But you know he'll be ready for the battle, and so will Australia. The Bull is indeed back.