Flat track Bull? Warner’s 335 was a supreme performance


These might seem like footnotes, but here lies the paradox of gigantic individual innings. The better they are, the longer they go, the easier the batting seems.

David Warner passes 300 against Pakistan.Credit:Getty Images

Through Friday and Saturday, Warner was only ever troubled when he had to dive into the crease to beat a throw. Like Don Bradman, whose Adelaide Test record of 299 he eclipsed, Warner did not license himself to hit a six, or not until he was past 300.

He made batting look so easy, many in the crowd were hoping Australia might need a concussion substitute so that they might get a shot themselves.

And this is also the problem of the triple-century. They are too great to be good. Your mind wanders not to the best triples ever made, which is sort of tautological. They are by definition great, as in, great in size. As the innings inflates, a simultaneous deflation takes effect, and instead of the best, your mind wanders to the worst triple-centuries you can think of.

Since 1966, there have only been three others by Australians: Mark Taylor’s 334 not out in Peshawar in 1998, Matthew Hayden’s 380 in Perth in 2003, and Michael Clarke’s unbeaten 329 at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2012. It goes without saying that they were all achieved on batsman-friendly pitches.

Taylor’s and Clarke’s were self-evidently not bad triples. Taylor was away – far away – from home. He faced an attack featuring two 150kmh pacemen, Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Zahid. Mushtaq Ahmed was a wonderful leg-spinner at home, and the bowling all-rounders were Azhar Mahmood and Aamir Sohail.

What will be said, in future years, of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Musa, Mohammad Abbas and Yasir Shah?

Clarke’s triple also measures up well against the quality of the bowlers. India had Australia 2-8 and 3-37 before Clarke rescued the situation with Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey. India’s bowlers were Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, R. Ashwin (three-quarters of their attack today) and Zaheer Khan.

So it was probably fitting that Warner’s innings resembled Hayden’s more and more the closer he got to it. Hayden amassed his Australian record at the WACA against a Zimbabwe attack, for want of a better word, consisting of Heath Streak, Andy Blignaut, Sean Ervine, Ray Price and Trevor Gripper, names that sound more like the answer to a Rockquiz question. But Heath Streak was a good Test bowler.

What will be said, in future years, of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Musa, Mohammad Abbas and Yasir Shah? The first two are teenagers, and Afridi toiled with great heart while Musa was making his debut.

Matthew Hayden relaxes in the afterglow of his 380 against Zimbabwe.

Matthew Hayden relaxes in the afterglow of his 380 against Zimbabwe.Credit:Getty

Abbas is a good bowler somewhere else, but here he bowled at the kind of pace that explains why the likes of Troy Copeland and Chadd Sayers, excellent first-class performers, never get picked for home Test matches.

Poor Yasir is a top-drawer leg-spinner whose confidence has deserted him. Together, they were marshalled by Azhar Ali, a captain who had the job fall in his lap before he could get out of the way.

As far as degree of difficulty is concerned, Hayden’s 380 is still the top dog for leaping over a low bar.

But in all seriousness, Warner’s innings was only hard to watch because he negated the contest between bat and ball. It was supreme batting, a complete performance in every aspect. His teammates gave him a warmly smiling guard of honour as he left the field.

Whereas Taylor had famously declared on the same score as Bradman’s best, Tim Paine permitted Warner to go one better, for what it is worth, which is not cricket, just a statistic.

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After all that has happened in the past two years, Warner batted to prove a point, and he proved it conclusively, if the point was to show that he is still young and strong enough to win matches for his team and rank among the best in the world.

He was inexhaustible, and his celebrations gained in vigour each time. If he had been allowed to get 400, he might have done a foofer valve. It was a great big innings, perhaps, more than a great innings; and if you were a Pakistan player it was, like Mount Everest, best viewed from afar.

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