David Warner: The T20 product with a rich Test legacy

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Warner's career strike rate of 70.26 in Tests is a number bettered by only two players to have scored 5000+ runs and have balls faced details available (Adam Gilchrist and Virender Sehwag)
Warner's career strike rate of 70.26 in Tests is a number bettered by only two players to have scored 5000+ runs and have balls faced details available (Adam Gilchrist and Virender Sehwag) © Getty

David Warner is set to bring down the curtains on an illustrious Test career spanning 13 years and 111 Tests at his home ground SCG this week. It now sounds almost counterintuitive to think that a bloke who landed a deal with an IPL franchise a month before he earned his maiden first class cap for his state side now sits third on the list of run-getters among openers in 146 years of Test cricket. Warner will walk away as Australia's fifth highest run-getter in Tests with over 8500 runs while his aggregate in runs and hundreds across formats for Australia is only behind that of Ricky Ponting.

Most Test runs for Australia

Player Mat Runs Avg 100s 50s Highest
R Ponting 168 13378 51.85 41 62 257
A Border 156 11174 50.56 27 63 205
S Waugh 168 10927 51.06 32 50 200
S Smith 104 9472 58.11 32 40 239
D Warner 111 8695 44.58 26 36 335*
M Clarke 115 8643 49.10 28 27 329*
M Hayden 103 8625 50.73 30 29 380
M Waugh 128 8029 41.81 20 47 153*

In his final pre-match press conference as an active Test player, Warner declared that the World Cup final in Ahmedabad last November could be his final appearance in the ODI format as well. If it indeed is and he doesn't return for the 2025 Champions Trophy, he finishes as Australia's sixth highest run-getter in the format despite player only 161 matches across 14 years while his tally of 22 centuries is second only to Ponting's 29.

Across formats, only Sanath Jayasuriya (19298) and Chris Gayle (18867) have scored more runs opening the batting than Warner's 18270 while the 49 hundreds he raked up sits right at the top.

His ODI legacy is probably not spoken as loudly as it should be probably due to the fact he featured only in 161 games in the format. Since Warner's debut, 24 players played in more ODIs than him - Virat Kohli, who made his debut four months before Warner's, played in 287 matches in the same period. Despite this, Warner sits in a coveted club of three players to average 45+ and score at 95+ strike rate in the format (5000+ runs).

Player Inngs Runs Avg SR 100s
AB de Villiers 218 9577 53.50 101.09 25
D Warner 159 6932 45.30 97.26 22
Q de Kock 155 6770 45.74 96.64 21

Warner received his maiden baggy green cap at a time when Australia were rebuilding after most of their golden generation of superstars from the 1990s and early -2000s left the scene. That year saw five of his teammates from the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan making their respective debuts, who form the core of their current squad (add Steven Smith to that list who made his just six months ago in July 2010).

Since his debut, Warner has scored more than 2000 runs than the next best opener Alastair Cook and ten hundreds more than second placed Dimuth Karunaratne. Among the eight opening batters with 3000+ Test runs in this period, Warner's average of 45.08 is the best while his strike rate of 70.50 is comfortably leading the second placed Tamim Iqbal's 57.03. To bring in further perspective, openers from New Zealand (22), West Indies (18) and Bangladesh (12) cumulatively managed fewer Test centuries than Warner alone.

Any doubt over Warner's adaptability as Test opener was laid to rest in just his second Test where he 'carried the bat' in a fourth innings chase in a shock defeat to New Zealand in Hobart (Australia's only Test defeat against New Zealand since 1991) - an innings in which no other batter scored more than 23. In his fifth Test match later in the season, he showcased his range, smashing a century off just 69 balls between Tea and Stumps against India at the WACA enroute a 159-ball 180.

Warner's Test career has symmetrical pattern as his numbers in the final quarter of his career mirroring those in the first quarter - excellent at home and mediocre overseas. Up until Ashes 2013, Warner was a beast at home, averaging a shade under 50 and striking at 81 but had a pale shadow of those figures away from home. Likewise, since returning from the ball-tampering ban in Ashes 2019, he has averaged an exceptional 55 at home, though these have come at a much serener rate of 63 per ball balls.

Period Mat Runs Avg SR 100s 50s Highest
Debut - Sep 2013 22 1401 36.87 68.88 3 8 180
Oct 2013 - Mar 2018 52 4962 52.79 76.26 18 21 253
Since Apr 2019 37 2332 37.02 60.82 5 7 335*

What catapulted Warner into becoming the giant he is today was the middle chunk of his career - starting from the home Ashes 2013/14 that also witnessed Australia rising from their mediocrity in their early 2010s until the nadir of his career in Cape Town 2018. This was a period that saw the rise of the modern day 'Fab Four' and Warner's numbers and impact matched right up with those four greats. In 52 Tests between October 2013 and March 2018, he smashed 4962 runs at 52.79 and 18 of his 26 Test centuries were hit during this phase. He averaged 63.66 at home and a handy 43.22 away, hitting all six of his away hundreds, four of those in a span of just six innings in 2014.

Period Inngs (H) Avg (H) 100s (H) Inngs (A) Avg (A) 100s (A)
Debut - Sep 2013 20 49.83 3 20 25.20 0
Oct 2013 - Mar 2018 47 63.66 12 50 43.22 6
Since Apr 2019 32 54.97 5 34 20.70 0

What makes this phase of his career even more remarkable is the fact that Warner was able to achieve consistency across formats, something that is quite difficult for an opening batter to achieve given the diverse requirements of the formats.

Warner hit 11333 runs in Tests, ODIs and T20s combined in this period, a tally bettered only by Virat Kohli. He hit 1000+ runs at 80+ strike rate in Tests in both 2014 and 2015 (only two other player have achieved the above double in Tests where balls faced details available; Virender Sehwag and Tillakaratne DIlshan) while his best year in ODIs came in 2016 where he smashed 1388 runs at 63.09 and 105 runs per 100 balls including seven three-figure scores, a tally bettered only by Sachin Tendulkar in 1998 (9 X 100s).

He earned Orange Caps in IPL in both 2015 and 2017 while in 2016 he amassed 848 runs and finished second to Kohli's record breaking 973-run tally. Given how the two formats have diverged further in the years progressed, such a parallel peak for an opening batter would be hard to be emulated in the time to go.

Warner across formats between October 2013 and March 2018

Format Mat Runs Avg SR 100s 50s Highest
Tests 52 4962 52.78 76.26 18 21 253
ODIs 67 3210 51.77 103.81 12 11 179
T20s 84 3161 43.30 147.50 1 30 126

Warner's back foot dominated game was quite suited to the pacy and bouncy conditions at home where he prospered. South Africa mimic those conditions the most and that is where he has performed the best away from home.

The peak of his career came there in 2014 where he hit 543 runs in three Tests with three hundreds including 135 and 145 in the series decider in Cape Town that propelled Australia to the top of ICC team rankings. It remains Australia's greatest away series win during Warner's career alongside the 1-0 win in Pakistan in 2022. His other noteworthy away series came in Bangladesh in 2017 where he hit a 135-ball 112 in an agonizingly close fourth innings losing cause and followed it up with a well-crafted 123 in the first innings of the subsequent Test to avoid a humiliating series defeat.

Country Mat Runs Avg SR 100s 50s Highest
Aus & SA 63 6107 58.72 73.83 23 18 335*
Sub continent & WI 25 1330 28.29 60.70 2 8 123
Eng & NZ 21 1019 25.47 63.37 0 9 85

Outside of home, Warner played 10+ Tests only in England (19) and India (10) and he struggled in both those places, averaging 26.48 and 21.78 respectively with no three-figure knocks to show for. If it was lateral movement that he struggled with in England, exploited by James Anderson in the early stages of his career and more famously by Stuart Broad in the latter half, R Ashwin was his bugbear in India. The three bowlers combined accounted for his wicket 38 times at an average of 26.74; 22 of those in England and India for 22.73.

Bowler Inngs Balls Runs Dis Avg
S Broad 55 862 456 17 26.82
R Ashwin 20 428 194 11 17.63
J Anderson 42 735 366 10 36.60

Some noteworthy numbers from Warner's career

70.26Warner's career strike rate in Tests, a number bettered by only two players to have scored 5000+ runs and have balls faced details available for the entirety of their career. Virender Sehwag scored 8586 runs at 82.23 tops the list followed by Adam Gilchrist who managed a rate of 81.95 for his tally of 5570 runs.

335* by Warner against Pakistan in Adelaide in 2019 is the second highest individual score for Australia behind Matthew Hayden's then world record of 380 against Zimbabwe in Perth in 2003. Overall, it is the tenth highest individual score for any batter in Test cricket.

25.62Difference between Warner's home (58.12) and away (32.50) averages. Among those players to have batted at least 50 times each both home and away (including neutral venues), this is the second highest such difference behind Mudassar Nazar's 27.07.

Highest difference between home and away averages

Player Inngs (H) Avg (H) 100s (H) Inngs (A) Avg (A) 100s (A) H-A avg
Mudassar Nazar 52 53.63 8 64 26.56 2 27.07
D Warner 99 58.12 20 104 32.50 6 25.61
D Compton 76 60.05 13 55 36.88 4 23.17
D Vengsarkar 80 55.60 13 105 32.74 4 22.86
M Clarke 86 62.05 17 112 39.50 11 22.56
D Haynes 84 56.06 10 118 33.51 8 22.55

Seven 150+ scores by Warner is the second most for a player in ODIs behind eight such knocks by Rohit Sharma. Of Australia's top 14 highest individual scores, Warner has as many as six entries while no other player with more than one.

Six centuries by Warner is the joint-second most for a batter in ODI World Cups alongside Tendulkar with only Rohit above them with seven. The three batters mentioned are also the only ones to have multiple World Cup editions with 500+ runs; Warner hitting 647 runs in England in 2019 after having not played in the format the entire year before owing to a suspension and ending his career with 535 runs in their title winning campaign in India in 2023.

3Players to score centuries in both innings of a Test on three instances - Sunil Gavaskar, Ricky Ponting, and Warner. Warner's instances were achieved in a space of 20 months between March 2014 and November 2015: 135 & 145 vs South Africa in Cape Town, 145 & 102 in an emotionally draining Test against India in Adelaide and 163 & 116 vs New Zealand in Brisbane.

10Warner is one of the ten players to score a century in his 100th Test and only the second after Joe Root to convert that to a double hundred. He also scored a century in his 100th ODI making him only the second player after Gordon Greenidge to achieve the feat in both Tests and ODIs.

6 Players to score a century before lunch on the first day of a Test. Warner achieved the feat against Pakistan at SCG in 2017 - the venue and the opponent on his final appearance. Warner emulated Victor Trumper, Charles Macartney, Don Bradman, and Majid Khan, while Shikhar Dhawan joined the list in the following year.

69 balls taken by Warner to reach his century against India at the WACA in 2012 - the fastest ever by an opening batter in Tests. Warner also holds the record for the fastest half century by an opener off 23 balls against Pakistan in Sydney in 2017, which happens to be the second fastest by any player behind Misbah-ul-Haq's 21-ball effort against Australia in Abu Dhabi in 2014.

17dismissals for Warner against Broad - the joint third-most a batter has got out to a bowler in Tests behind Glenn McGrath's 19 dismissals of Michael Atherton and Alec Bedser's 18 of Arthur Morris. Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh also have got the better of Atheron 17 times each, same as Broad off Warner.



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