David Warner is set to become the 28th Australian to play 100 ODIs © Getty Images
In a set of new rules, effective for series beginning from September 28, the ICC stipulated that the size of bats be reduced. Now, the thickness of the edge cannot be more than 40 mm and the thickness of the bat must not exceed 67 mm. David Warner, whose bat has often been brought up as an example of batsmen having it easy in the modern era, has already complied with the new regulations, though he could have completed the tour of India with his soon-to-be-oversized bats.
“Well, my bats have already been changed,” Warner said in Bengaluru on the eve of the fourth ODI against India. “I’ve been using them for the last couple of weeks. In Bangladesh, getting used to it. It basically is the same bat that I started my career with. So I just basically took it down to my bat-maker and said, ‘We just got to go back to what we started with’. And it didn’t really affect me then, so I don’t think it’d affect me now. “
Would the fact that he has to contend with a reduced sweet spot not play on his mind when he’s trying to clear the boundary? “I think everyone’s sort of been misled in a way where they think the big bats clear the fences easier than the old bats used to,” Warner said. “From where I stand on it, basically, we were hitting sixes with the bats five-six years ago and still hitting sixes today. So in theory, in saying that, your bat’s got more moisture in the wood. The bats broke probably a lot more recently because there’s less moisture in the bat. So at the end of the day, you obviously have to use what you’re given and it’s not going to make a difference at all.”
As a result, we have an interesting little coincidence. Warner will be playing his 100th ODI on Thursday, wielding a bat similar to the ones he used when he first broke into the scene. The achievement filled him with pride, considering he started as a T20 basher, and he pointed to a change in mind-set about 18 months ago that helped him crack the 50-over format.
From his debut in January 2009, he averaged a modest 37 over his first 71 matches, with only five centuries. Back then, he thought he only had to give the team a fast start and then go cool off in the dressing room. Since March 2016, however, Warner has begun to understand his role better, and it has led to a stark rise in his numbers. Warner has amassed eight centuries in 28 innings, he has been unbeaten twice, and he is still scoring at over a run a ball.
“Playing Test cricket’s allowed me to actually nurture my game in the 50 overs and take a bit more time and try and bat through the middle period as well,” he said. “Not bat in such an aggressive manner and play the game as it is and let it unfold and set the platform for the rest of the guys coming in. I didn’t really think about that when I first came into the set-up. We had Pup [Michael Clarke], Smithy [Steven Smith], Mike Hussey, we had these guys that were such good finishers, I just thought my role was to go out there and blast it for 15-20 overs. And you don’t realise that you’re there to bat 50.
“Through the last 18 months, I’ve had such a consistent patch because I’ve learnt to adapt to that mentality while I’m out there. And if I get myself in, try to be there towards the 35-40-over mark, and go on with it. I’ve prided myself on doing that. And setting the benchmark of 150, for any of us as an opener, if you get in, that’s the benchmark to try and achieve in your innings.”
Finding the skill to adapt his game to the longer formats has given Warner a great sense of comfort, and he looked forward to becoming one of only 28 Australians to the mark of 100 ODIs. “It’s a significant milestone for myself and my family. I’m extremely proud for where I am today, coming from playing a Twenty20 game at the MCG in front of 90,000 people to then be called up a couple of games later to represent Australia in the ODI format, I never thought I would come so far.
“I’ve got a great bunch of team-mates around me. Obviously, Smithy bringing up his 100th game a couple of days ago, we’ve come a long way from where we were as juniors, not being picked, me being dropped and him taking my spot etc. We’ve had a great friendship over those years, and to play in our 100th together is massive for us and we’re very proud of that.”
Considering the amount of time he has been around, this is Warner’s first ODI series in India, and it’s been a surprising experience. “Coming here to play ODIs for the first time has been different. Obviously two new white balls, the first two games have been different – first a 21-over game, and then in Kolkata the ball was swinging around and it was totally different to what I expected.
“That’s probably the toughest conditions I faced from a white-ball point of view. It swung a lot more than it did in England. I think when you adapt your games to the conditions… last game was probably the game where it was traditional one-day cricket – the ball didn’t swing as much, the wicket was nice to bat on. I obviously didn’t make the most of getting in [dismissed for 42]. So that’s probably a thing for me to reflect on, and hopefully, I can bring out here in this game and go on with it.”
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo