When David Warner was bowled for 28 on Saturday night, it marked the 1062nd day since the ageing superstar had last scored a Test century for Australia.
Given the 36-year-old has scored 24 of them during his successful 97-Test career opening the batting, it’s quite the anomaly that he’s now gone almost three years without one.
It doesn’t mean the man nicknamed ‘The Bull’ hasn’t been in the headlines though – far from it.
The media circus continues to follow Warner everywhere he goes, and that has increased ten-fold since the left-hander released an explosive statement condemning his treatment since requesting a review into his life leadership ban after the ‘Sandpapergate’ debacle that rocked Australian cricket in 2018.
David Warner, pictured with wife Candice, has been vocal in his bid to have his life leadership ban lifted despite recently dropping his appeal – has it affected his on-field form?
A wild slash from David Warner against West Indian spinner Roston Chase saw him bowled on Saturday
In a stunning social media post where he announced he wouldn’t seek to have the ban overturned, Warner said he was withdrawing his bid because he didn’t want to be subject to a ‘lynching’ from a public trial over the now-infamous ball-tampering scandal.
It’s led to every man and his dog in the cricketing world commenting and debating on the matter, and fortunately for Warner it has completely distracted everyone from his poor on-field form.
There’s no doubt he has been an incredible warrior for Australia with bat in hand over the past decade, and in many ways has revolutionised the way openers can play Test cricket.
But at 36, after making his debut in the baggy green in 2011, a natural decline is both inevitable and eirely fair enough.
A frustrated David Warner leaves the Optus Stadium turf in the first Test against the West Indies after yet another cheap dismissal
Two of Australia’s greatest-ever top order batsmen, Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden, both experienced a gradual decline in their thirties, as have many others.
Being able to pick up the ball’s trajectory, and apply the appropriate response from hand-eye coordination, becomes harder as batters age – though whether that is the case for Warner of course remains to be seen.
What we can see, though, is the low scores and consistently being dismissed in an all-too-familiar manner, and it is only going to get harder for Warner given the calibre of opponents coming up.
‘I didn’t realise it was that lean, to be honest … four half centuries in his last 26 innings. You talk about how things are getting tougher for Warner with the attack the South Africans have got,’ Ponting said while commentating on Channel 7’s coverage of the Test on Saturday.
‘Well, it’s never easy in India either. We know what wickets we will get there. We will get turning pitches. No doubt. It’s never been easy for any Australian batsman going there and trying to play in those conditions.
‘Then on the back of that, what’s after that? The Ashes, in England as well. We will get conditions that will suit Broad, Anderson and Robinson,’ said Ponting of the schedule that awaits the out-of-form Warner.
Warner was bowled by Jayden Seales in the first Test for just five after attempting a wild shot through the covers
He averages 24 in India and 26 in England, so you know it will be an uphill battle.
His last Test century came against New Zealand at the SCG on January 3, 2020, and he hasn’t been in much better form in ODI or T20 cricket, either.
Prior to his 106 in a recent ODI against England, a series which appeared to be inconsequential to both players and fans, he hadn’t scored a century in that format either since January 2020.
How much of an impact his continued desire to air his criticism over his life leadership ban – and the subsequent media circus that follows it – has on his on-field play remains to be seen.
For several months, Warner has been very keen to step in front of every microphone he can find at press events or matches, and journalists often don’t get a word in edge-wise, such is his insistence on speaking his truth.
David Warner, pictured with wife Candice after winning the 2019/20 Allan Border Medal, has been a superstar for Australia over the last decade
The old ‘Bull’ would’ve used it as motivation to spank bowlers all over the park, but Warner has looked anything but impressive opening up while the saga swirls around him.
He has scores of 5, 48, 21 and 28 this Test series against a relatively mediocre (though gallant) West Indies attack on quite friendly pitches.
In the T20 World Cup, a format he should be shining in, Warner only managed 44 runs from 41 balls in four innings – and was very vocal in insisting he wanted to keep playing until at least the 2024 World Cup, despite his poor form and a glut of talented young openers waiting in the wings.
Some of the manner of his dismissals were even more concerning, with Warner seemingly throwing his wicket way very recklessly.
And his last Test century away from home? 2017. Yes, five years ago.
It was obvious to anyone watching, the West Indies bowlers this series know Warner wanted to blaze his way out of form by scorching boundaries through the covers.
Thus, they’ve bowled very tight lines and Warner hasn’t been able to help himself.
His bails have been sent flying twice, and in the other two dismissals he’s been caught behind after slashing away at a wide ball mindlessly.
Whether this is officially a terminal decline or just a extremely long run of poor form still remains to be seen, but at 36 and just one fifty in his last 12 innings points to the former.
Aussie great Merv Hughes is certainly worried about Warner’s decline.
Aussie fast bowling legend Merv Hughes is concerned that the end is nigh for David Warner in the baggy green
‘He hasn’t made a hundred for a long time,’ he said on Triple M.
‘My personal belief is he’s not wound up against the West Indies but he’s going to need to wind up against South Africa.
‘The thing you’re starting to see with David Warner is he’s starting to struggle a little bit more with that short ball.
‘That’s an area he’s going to be tested by South Africa. That’s going to be a big series for him because he’s not made the runs in recent times that I’m sure he would like and Australia would like,’ said Hughes.
His opening partner is no spring chicken either.
Usman Khawaja will turn 36 next week, but in contrast to Warner has been in very solid form since he was finally recalled.
David Warner (right) and opening partner Usman Khawaja (left) will both be 36 soon, and their numbers in the national side are no doubt numbered
It’s hard to imagine Warner ever being dropped, but is there someone ready to step in should he finally succumb?
Marcus Harris is the back-up opener in the squad, but has never really made the spot his own, while Matt Renshaw certainly deserves another shot given his strong form at Sheffield Shield level.
Riverina product Henry Hunt, who now plays for South Australia, is a batting prodigy making waves for the Redbacks, but is probably a few years off a Test spot.
But hey, Australian cricket has to move on some day – and they couldn’t fare much worse than Warner at the moment.