The build-up to a Perth Test would not be the same without comparisons to the WACA pitch of old that had high sheen, was fast and bouncy and partial to deteriorating, but Warner joked on Sunday that this week he may even be able to rest his bat in a potentially treacherous crack, such are the conditions he expects.
Speaking at the Australian under-19 championships in Perth, Warner said he would relish the opportunity to face conditions where there could be disarming bounce.
“I love coming over to Perth and playing on the wickets over here. Obviously, I haven’t played a Test here at this stadium but knowing the WACA in the old days when it used to crack, I always used to feel it was going to be a very, very good wicket when you saw those cracks,” he said.
“Last year I saw the ball zing though quite a bit. Obviously, that was with the red ball – it’s a bit of a harder cricket ball. We saw the Australia A game against Pakistan (in Perth), it was a very, very good wicket, the boys said. There is not going to be too much darkness around because of the light but, all in all, we are looking for a good wicket that is probably going to be juicy early then will definitely crack, and I can’t wait for that.”
Warner has flourished in Perth, averaging a stunning 82.50 in six Tests at the WACA, including a century in heatwave conditions against England in 2013.
The robust opening batsman heads into this clash in superb touch, having enjoyed a record-breaking 335 not out against Pakistan in Adelaide, and a century in Brisbane. But whether that is enough to have him ready to handle a cracking pitch, against a consistent and potent Black Caps attack, is another question.
Warner is strong hitting square of the wicket, which traditionally is a must in Perth, but even the very best of strokemakers have struggled when deep and wide cracks have emerged. In Warner’s favour is that the former Australian vice-captain has simplified his approach since the Ashes, and will take a clear mindset into a series where the home side could vault to No.2 in the World Test Championship rankings.
“As a batsman, you just look down, it (a crack) is always on your mind. You’re just like: ‘If one hits that crack, what’s it going to do?’,” he said.
Warner recalled a moment in one match where he “went to play a cover drive and it (the ball) went straight over my right shoulder. I laughed. I literally had no idea what to do. But, in saying that, anything can happen.
“When you get the prospect as a batsman that the wicket is going to crack, you get excited. I just think you have to try and eliminate the visual aspect of it and just try and play your natural game. If it hits a crack, so be it,” he said.
The Australians and Black Caps will have their first training sessions on Monday, with the fitness of Black Caps spearhead Trent Boult and allrounder Colin de Grandhomme a key focus.
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.