PERTH: Love him or hate him, David Warner’s self-belief and single-mindedness has seen him withstand scandals and slumps to remain Australia’s key batsman at the World Cup.
One of the most polarising players in cricket since his international debut in 2009, left-handed opener Warner is the centrepiece of Australia’s batting order in the twilight of his legendary career.
He will turn 37 during the World Cup in India.
While unconvincing in Test cricket in recent years, where his position in the team has been the subject of immense scrutiny, Warner has maintained strong form in the 50-over format.
He’s hit the second most ODI centuries by an Australian batsman and scored over 6,300 runs overall at a healthy average of around 45.
With long-time opening partner Aaron Finch retired and successor Travis Head under an injury cloud, Warner will be relied upon at the top of the order in his swansong from ODI cricket.
Despite his critics lining up, a typically bullish Warner is determined to leave on his own terms having publicly laid out his retirement plans, where he also wants to exit Test cricket with a farewell match on his Sydney home ground in January.
“I probably owe it to myself and my family,” Warner said in June when announcing his future intentions.
“I’ve played every game like it’s my last. I enjoy being around the guys. I love being part of the team and being that ball of energy in the group.
“I’ll keep working as hard as I can to get there.”
If all goes to plan, it will be something of an unlikely fairytale ending for Warner, whose career looked over in 2018 after he was named as the chief protagonist of Australia’s humiliating ball-tampering scandal at Newlands in South Africa.
Warner received a 12-month suspension for instructing teammate Cameron Bancroft to use sandpaper on the ball and was also banned from leadership positions for life.
Much like his attacking batting, Warner hit back against the odds, returning with aplomb across three formats to maintain a formidable presence at the crease.
Short but nuggety, Warner’s strong forearms generate immense power, resulting in one of the most aggressive batsmen in cricket history.
“The courage to play his own way…the guts to take on the pace bowlers with the new ball, that is no mean feat,” former Australia captain Ian Chappell wrote in ESPNcricinfo recently.
“It’s something that he should be remembered for - not many have the courage to not only do it but to maintain that approach throughout a lengthy career.”
Ahead of the World Cup, Warner turned back the clock with a belligerent century against South Africa in Bloemfontein in a statement to those who have written him off.
“I saw some really good signs with David Warner in South Africa,” said former wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, who was part of Australia’s 2015 World Cup triumph alongside Warner.
"He looked like he wanted to take the game on and when he does that it takes the pressure off the rest of the batting order.
“I think he’s ready for a big tournament and a great finale.”