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David Warner: Australia's record breaker

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David_Warner_Australia_cricketA reminder, if not something to rub in the face of their opponents: Australia, even in times marked by massive restructuring, have David Warner - an enigmatic gum-chewing, expressive pocket-dynamo. He truly is the archetype of an attacking Australian cricketer. Even with no McGrath, Warne, Watson or Mitchell Johnson around anymore, it seems Australia's opponents are never going to have it easy with Warner playing, whether on the pitch or on ground.

In 2016, a year where Australia have been at the receiving end of so many upsets – notably their drubbing at the hands of the Proteas and being clean-swept by Sri Lanka – Warner has demonstrated that the demolition man status attributed to him is no exaggeration. His heroics continue unabated even amidst the unpredictable vulnerabilities that his famous side has shown of late.

Whether playing in whites, often tarnished by the weight of Australian collapse, or the iconic bright yellows, Warner is a constant source of inspiration, irreplaceable in the Aussie eleven.

In their just-concluded series against the Kiwis, their antipodean neighbours, David Warner has once again asserted, his ability to flex his muscles when it matters most. In this series that Australia had already won, Warner struck back-to-back centuries in the 2nd & 3rd matches. He made New Zealand feel the misery felt by the white ball when blasted by his faithful Gray-Nicolls.

Let's face it. This has truly been a year that has once again belonged to batsmen, as it so often does, perhaps crushing the triumph of a bowler. And we've all been hailing Virat Kohli for topping charts incessantly across formats, followed by some incredible batting by the likes of Smith, Root and on other occasions, Williamson or Darren Bravo, whose future seems sadly in doubt.

But amidst all the accolades so deservingly resting with Virat, inarguably a great batsman, it is David Warner who has reigned supreme. Warner has collected 10 ODI centuries from just 87 games, 7 of which have come in 2016. If that is not enough evidence of his sheer dominance in the limited over format, then what is?

 

Comparing cricketers may be an intrinsic part of cricket's culture, but it isn't all that cool. Comparing Warner to Kohli suggests a clash of aggression backed by perhaps equal abilities locking horns only on the face of it. Kohli's 26 ODI tons, an exasperating achievement considering he isn't even 30, finds astounding competition from 30 year old Warner who has conjured 10 hundreds. While it is unfair to suggest Warner belongs in the 'Kohliesque' league, he isn't too far behind, considering he has half the number of ODI appearances as Kohli.

Sachin Tendulkar struck 9 ODI hundreds in a single calendar year in 1998, at least three of those coming against Zimbabwe and Kenya. That puts him at the top of the list, ahead of Ganguly, who struck 7 tons in 2000.

And now, having scored back to back hundreds against the Kiwis, the latest, a fiery 156 off just 128 balls at MCG, Warner makes his 2016 glorious with his century count reaching 7.

Warner is tied with Sourav making him the second best following Tendulkar's 1998 milestone year, but second to no other Aussie when it comes to scoring most ODI hundreds in a single calendar year. Each of his 7 ODI hundreds in 2016 have resulted in Australia extending their record against familiar foes such as South Africa and New Zealand. Not that his 3 tons against the Proteas and 2 against Kiwis are indicative of his superiority only against teams Australia plays against often. His 122 off 113 against India and 106 versus Sri Lanka at Pallekele were dominant headline material.

So much about this whippersnapper of a cricketer is instinct driven, and yet his achievements warrant greater credit that is generally accorded to the muscular leftie, considering he doesn't slack off in Tests either: just look at his unbeaten 122 against Windies early in 2016 and a valiant 97 at Perth recently versus South Africa.

After all, the fault may lie in a diminutive frame that can make bowlers breathe easy but only before the ball is released. What happens post that is the stuff of fireworks. And even then, to have a batsman perhaps not having the greatest of techniques, often marred by poor shot-selection, who throws away his wicket yet scares the opposition makes Warner an ecstatic success.

Oozing passion, it seems Warner hardly ever breaks into a sweat. The incessant courage displayed, with sudden bouts of temper, is pivotal toward making contemporary cricket authentically competitive. In fact, it is equally meaningful toward helping an Australian team coping with constant restructuring.

In Warner, the Aussies have a force of nature who can almost single-handedly change the course of a game, as evidenced by his 156 on December 9, 2016 where Smith managed a duck and the next best score was Travis Head's 37. But in order to solidify his standing amongst true ODI greats, we should look forward to more fireworks from the New South Wales bat.

 

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