When David Warner debuted for Australia in a Twenty20 international against South Africa, he had yet to make his first-class debut. His selection was met with widespread scepticism from an establishment concerned at the impact the novel hit-and-giggle format of the game was having on cricket’s future. At a packed MCG, and with a primetime television audience looking on, Warner smashed 89 from 43 deliveries, despatching an attack containing Dale Steyn to all parts.
Almost exactly two years later, Warner, in just his second Test, carried his bat for 123 against New Zealand. His side’s total that day in Hobart was just 233 and the next-best score was exactly 100 less than his.
In between those momentous innings, Warner rode the wave of public acclaim, cementing his status as a global Twenty20 superstar. In parallel, his first-class career was non-existent and his one-day international aspirations had stalled. However, rather than resigning himself to becoming a cricketing novelty-act, he did what few expected he was capable of and grafted at his game, honing the skills of an allround batsman to allow his extraordinary hitting ability to shine, on as many stages as possible.
The breakthrough came in 2011, when he cemented a spot for New South Wales and in so doing forced his way into an Australia A tour of Zimbabwe, one that proved to be his coming-of-age. He has been a fixture at the top of Australia’s order across all formats since the start of the 2011-12 Australian summer. Far from his sideshow beginnings, he is now being groomed for future leadership duties.
On his day, Warner is unplayable. His hitting zones are so big that there is no safe area for a bowler to deliver the ball. If his timing is off, his bat speed is so quick and his physique so muscular that he can still mishit sixes. He is also one of the few batsmen capable of executing the switch-hit, a talent he has perfected by practicing with a two-sided bat.