Despite breaking several records in South Africa, David Warner says he wont be happy unless the Aussies win the series against the Proteas.
FORMER Test skipper Kim Hughes has branded David Warner a legend in the making – “brutalising” bowlers in the tradition of West Indies master blaster Viv Richards.
Hughes says every successful skipper needs a matchwinning strokeplayer, a spearhead with a ruthless streak, which Michael Clarke now has to secure the No. 1 Test ranking for Australia.
Warner’s belligerent dual tons at a strike rate of 90 in the third Test at Cape Town allowed Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris just enough time to roll South Africa and secure an enthralling 2-1 series victory.
“He has the potential to be an all-time great. Viv would intimidate bowlers and Warner is no different. To score 280 runs in 308 balls is just freakish,” said Hughes, comparing the Australian opener to 121-Test batting great Richards.
While Morne Morkel attempted to bounce and bruise Clarke out of the third Test, Warner turned the tables, routinely targeting the beanpole and the Proteas’ attack. An unrivalled 543 runs at 90 for a three-match series in South Africa saw Warner occupy a stratosphere reserved for legends headed by Richards.
“I saw Viv Richards at his best and most destructive – he would brutalise people and Warner does the same,” said Hughes, who played 15 of his 90 Tests against a West Indies unit at the height of its world domination from 1977-84. While Warner, 27, burst to prominence as a Twenty20 slugger, there is now method to his madness – controlled aggression laced with all-out assault.
David Warner belts a brilliant hundred before Graeme Smith’s farewell is ruined as Australia charges towards victory late on day four of the third Test against South Africa.
“Warner’s footwork is different, a technique that takes the game away from you which is harder to do as an opener,” Hughes told The Advertiser. “He is just a special talent who will go and be one of the greatest of any era.”
While Warner is blossoming into the game’s most exhilarating batsman his disciplinary transgressions continue to mount, from a bar-room whack on England’s Joe Root to accusations of ball tampering against respected South African star AB de Villiers.
Hughes insists Warner’s tough upbringing in a western Sydney Housing Commission flat must be factored into any analysis of the 30-Test left-hander. There was no silver spoon in Warner’s world – forced to fight his way to the top – and Australia shouldn’t blunt its rough diamond.
“He’s no private school boy, I have seen his story. He is a young man, a work in progress, a very honest fellow,” said Hughes. “He backs his words with actions and sometimes you wish he would be quiet and let the bat do the talking.”
Warner will mature off-field surrounded by Australian coach Darren Lehmann, Clarke and wise men within the team fold, says Hughes.
“You just hope that with good people around him he will learn. Fellas like Darren Lehmann are a good influence. It is like looking at a young Ricky Ponting, put a few years on him and they are okay. Darren Lehmann has these blokes playing the Australian way.”
Hughes noted Clarke had conquered demons of his own with a courageous undefeated 162 at Newlands. Clarke experienced issues against the short ball but withstood a relentless pounding from Morkel.
“Michael got through it, one of the top innings he has played. It is a great achievement given the quality of the opposition,” said Hughes of Clarke who required medical attention during his 301-ball dig that set up a 494-run first innings total and victory.
Australian T20 skipper George Bailey says fiery opener David Warner thrives on the verbal contest on the field, despite claims to the contrary from former England spinner Graeme Swann,
“It was a fantastic captain’s innings.” A past with fast cars and model Lara Bingle had given critics the wrong impression about Clarke and his ticker.
“I don’t think he has anything to answer any more,” Hughes said. “He has never been anything other than fantastic and is intuitive on the field.”
Just a year after a 4-0 drubbing in India, Clarke is on the precipice of reclaiming the No.1 Test ranking.
Warner’s five tons and 1066 runs at 71 and Johnson’s 59 wickets have bankrolled a rise from No. 5 to No. 2 in Test rankings. England and South Africa have been left crushed and confused.
“Michael has two of the X-factors of world cricket – Johnson and Warner. You have a strike bowler who is terrorising them and an opener who attacks the bowlers,” he said. “You need the cattle to be No. 1 and Australia can be. Johnson is in the form of his life.”
Hughes never had any respite against West Indies attacks featuring Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Courtney Walsh. Batsmen used to military medium-pace are being given a rude awakening by revitalised enforcer Johnson.
“The West Indies had four Johnsons. Batsmen are used to playing off the front foot and get into trouble against good quick bowlers. Mitch is fast and different,” said Hughes.
DAVID WARNER – 30 Tests for Australia since 2011 – 2467 runs at 46.54 – Hundreds: 8 – Highest score: 180
SIR VIV RICHARDS – 121 Tests for West Indies, 1974 – 1991 – 8540 runs at 50.23 – Hundreds: 24- Highest score: 291