An attacking opener is a cricketing equivalent of a highly-risky mutual fund, with both of them subject to the obvious menace in the market. But what if your investment has been in a market, which assures: consistency and rewards. That market is David Warner and the consistency and rewards is his legacy in the Indian Premier League.
4794 runs in 129 innings, at an average of 40.97 and at a strike-rate of 141.3 with 50 scores of 50 or more, Warner’s legacy is not even questionable. Only Shikhar Dhawan (5220) has scored more runs as an opener in the competition and only Chris Gayle has scored at a higher strike rate (151.4) than Warner. Out of all openers who have scored more than 3500 runs in the competition, only Gautam Gambhir has won more IPL titles as a skipper.
Warner’s time at the Sunrisers would definitely go down in the history books of not just the franchise but also in the league. His aura, authority and charisma would always remain best to none and his consistency, well that has come under the scanner for the first time since his debut season in the competition.
His love for the franchise and the city of Hyderabad is unparalleled, especially for a foreign skipper, who has his footsteps in the city all the way from Paddington in Australia. With 195 runs in eight games, it is officially safe to say that David Warner and his Sunrisers Hyderabad have fallen.
Married consistency with authority
200 and more sixes in IPL, most 50s as an opener in the competition and the second-highest run-scorer for an opener in the competition, Warner has indeed married consistency with some fierce authority. A leader, who has marched with his teammates, the 34-year-old has never shied away from a fight in the Orange jersey.
Since taking over leadership, only Virat Kohli has scored more runs than the Australian, who also happened to miss the one entire season due to his ban from international cricket. In just 67 appearances as skipper, the southpaw has scored 2792 runs but has the best average (48.14) and strike rate (143) for captains, who have played a minimum of 50 IPL games.
From the 2014 edition of the tournament, Warner has never finished a season below 500-run mark, with 528 runs, 562 runs, 848 runs, 641 runs, 692 runs and 548 runs in the next six seasons while maintaining a strike-rate of minimum 130 across seasons. Only KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan come close to Warner’s consistency, with the former two batters having three 500+ run seasons in the competition.
But the Australian opener has five and in four of those seasons, the franchise has reached the playoff stage. So how would you describe Warner? An opener or a leader or just the face of the city? A look around his Instagram profile and you will find out exactly what the city means to him and vice-versa in the comments section.
Warner is not your ordinary cricketer, he isn’t the most extraordinary one either but he belongs to a category seldom talked about - fierce, aggressive and yet consistent. The zeal, enthusiasm, hunger and passion that drives him on the ground makes him one of the most revered foreign cricketers in a country that already has several Indian stars to devote their time to.
In fact, the southpaw has only one season (2020), where he has a strike-rate of below 140 ever since his move to Sunrisers. So, his runs have always been of the highest value for the franchise, with 32 50+ scores since 2015 alone. In the wins for the Sunrisers, the aggressive southpaw has scored 2164, at an average of 65.58 with a strike-rate of 154.9 with eight not-outs, having scored the most half-centuries in wins for openers (23).
Sunrisers Hyderabad prior to Warner’s entrance had finished only once in the playoffs, and since then found themselves meandering in the bottom half of the table. Warner then with a 848-run season not just changed the fortunes of the franchise but more importantly, transformed the face of the franchise. The city that has revered high-thrilling action and has always romanticised the historical nuances in the nook and the corner found a new figure in Warner.
The other spectrum – where did the downfall begin?
3, 54, 36, 37 and 6 – read Warner’s scores after the first five games in IPL 2021. His strike-rate, barring that knock of 54 (145.95), read 75, 105.88, 100 and 75. That’s exactly what began the undoing for the southpaw, who till then seemingly had the confidence of the management.
April 28, 2021, Sunrisers’ home clash against Chennai Super Kings is what began the real ruination for Warner – the captain and the batsman. Having won the toss, the Australian opted to bat and immediately were on the backfoot when Jonny Bairstow was dismissed. But Warner etched a partnership with Manish Pandey, one that at first sight was saving the game before it turned the other way.
That was the Australian opener’s lowest strike-rate for an innings where he has gone past the half-century mark in the competition at 103.64. All four innings where he had a strike rate of below 126, had resulted in a loss for the franchise.
“I take full responsibility for the way I batted. I batted slow and hit the fielders. The way Manish batted was exceptional. Kane and Kedhar got us to a respectable total, but at the end of the day I take full responsibility. Probably 15 good shots to fielders and they are the ones that make or break the innings. At the end of the day, I took too many balls,” was Warner’s comments in the post-match presentation.
Since the resumption of the tournament in the Middle-East, the 34-year-old has scored two runs in two games, both of them resulting in a loss for the franchise. While he was dropped post the Chennai game in the first-half, it all resulted in the destruction of this fiery fighter.
2021 proved to be the end of Warner’s era
Three of his dismissal in the powerplay has come off the bowling of right-arm pacers, against whom he averages 21.3 while striking it at 112.3. Against off-spinners, however, the strike-rate drops down to 50 in the powerplay, which is a contrast to how he has played all his IPL. His overall numbers in the competition against off-spinners in the powerplay has been average of 195 and a strike-rate of 150.
Against high pace, Warner has had his fair share of struggle in the competition, with 10 of his dismissals coming against pace above 140 KMPH, with a dot-ball percentage of 42.1 against high pace. In 2021, the left-hander had a strike-rate of 108.87 against pace while striking it at 105.26 against spin, showing that there is a decline for every legend.
“You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain,” has been one of the most used quotes from the movie The Dark Knight. But nothing defines Warner’s tenure in the Orange jersey more than this. After SRH’s tough start in this year’s competition, the management made the decision to sack the Australian as the captain.
"We had to make the hard call. Somebody has to miss out and unfortunately, it's him. He's shocked and disappointed. Anyone would be disappointed. He has come to terms with the logic behind what we want to achieve from a franchise's perspective," said Moody after the decision to both sack Warner as a captain and drop him from the playing XI.
While highly misunderstood on social media, it was Warner, the batsman who took the fall before the leader took the blame. Sunrisers’ tactics, which had been heavily reliant on the success of the Australian, took a fall when he was no longer the main piece of the entire puzzle.
"He (David Warner) is not going to be playing in this game and that's purely a decision based on the combination. We've come to the conclusion that at this stage two overseas bat, an all-rounder and Rashid Khan, is our best combination,” added Moody during the same discussion.
The franchise’s baffling deck of cards forced their hands to pick Jonny Bairstow and Kane Williamson in the batting department. Rashid Khan’s success ensured that his head never came under the scanner and with no real bowling options, the management had no other choice but to field Jason Holder, who was crucial to their puzzle.
But as mutual funds have time and again stressed us, it comes with utmost market risk and the demand of the market has indeed caught up with Warner’s trade.
With just one win from their first nine games, the qualification is out of Sunrisers’ reach but the bigger picture – it puts an abrupt but needed end to the legacy that Warner had so carefully and aggressively built in Hyderabad – a city that adores and will keep him relevant till his time in the competition.