When David Warner made his Test debut way back in 2011 against New Zealand, he was viewed as someone who was only capable of playing in the white-ball formats. Not only did Warner prove everyone wrong, but over the next 111 Tests, he also went on to become one of the all-time greats in Australian cricket. The left-hander is set to play his final Test, starting January 3 (Wednesday) in front of his home fans at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
What set Warner apart from his contemporaries was his ability to take the attack the opponent while being a ‘tough character’ - both on and off the field. While that has landed him in trouble multiple times over the past decade, it hasn’t stopped Warner from constantly evolving his game to the highest level. Former Australian skipper Michael Clarke opened up on Warner's presence in the Australian dressing room, with Clarke captaining him in 39 clashes.
"Davey has always been a tough character, someone I loved having in the team, that intent, that aggressive approach," Clarke told ESPN's Around The Wicket show. "But he was the same off the field, a little bull, and got into a little bit of trouble along the way.
But Clarke insisted that the southpaw was constantly helped with a lot of support in the dressing room, which stopped Cricket Australia from tearing his contract up. At the same time, the former Australian skipper credited Warner’s game, stating that the southpaw’s game belongs at the highest level - international cricket - and that’s where he belonged all the while since his debut.
"But think he had a lot of support and help from, certainly, senior players and around Cricket Australia that helped him not have his contract ripped up. There was a bit of a fight to keep him because he was so important to the team. [There was] the confidence, being his captain, that [at] the start of his career that like all of us, we are young, [he] needed to learn lessons along the way.
"Davey's game has really been learnt at the highest level, playing for Australia, which is not easy to do so think he deserves a lot of credit."
While opening is viewed as a rather easy task in the shorter formats of the game, it requires a lot of skills in the longest format - where the red-ball usually swings more prolonged than the white-ball. Clarke recalled how there were a lot of doubts over Warner’s ability, but a ‘gifted talent’ always existed.
"He's had a stellar career, opening the batting [is] such a hard position," Clarke said.
"There were a lot of doubts around the way Davey played. Could he cut it in Test cricket? [He] started as a T20 player and there was always that risk. I think from day one everyone saw the talent, very gifted, can do things that a lot of players can't do. And he's been able to manage that role as an opening batsman but keep his intent, which is easier said than done.
Could Warner have walked away from international cricket after the Sydney Test? Clarke definitely thinks so and added that it would have been the ‘ideal’ time for the two-time ODI World Cup winner to call it quits from international cricket.
"Guess I thought it would have been the ideal time to walk away from international cricket in general but [he] wants to keep playing T20 cricket," Clarke said.
"Now the balance is going to be form playing domestic T20s verses stepping up and playing international. He'll still have to earn his selection. Think his form in domestic T20 is something the selectors will be looking at. We have a lot of young players coming through in that T20 format that they might pick for the World Cup. Again, the way Davey's played in all three formats is credit to him."