David Warner is secretly rubbish at cricket

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3 minute read

It really doesn’t seem any great surprise that David Warner should be in Australia’s Ashes squad. But actually, for a man who has 103 Test caps and 25 hundreds to his name, his case is oddly weak.

Here in the UK, it’s about the time of year when people start getting a bit overexcited about the half-forgotten phenomenon of a warm sunny day. The first one of the year tends to arrive on a weekday and in offices and warehouses up and down the land, young folk discuss their weekend plans and a unanimous exclamation rings out: “Beer garden!”

As you pause your picking and packing, or your emailing, or your spreadsheeting, and gaze out of the window at a sun-drenched car park, it’s only natural to imagine yourself sitting in a bucolic idyll with a beer and no responsibilities. The mistake people make is in confusing a moment of relaxation with a full-day plan.

As someone who once worked in a pub with a beer garden, let us tell you that there is nothing more hellish than a sunny bank holiday. Maybe there’s a crude caricature of that idealised vision of an al fresco pint for one or two early starters, but it doesn’t take long for everyone else who’s had the same bright idea to downgrade the ambience. Nor is this a scenario where starting early is likely to work out well for you in the long run.

By 5pm you’re basically looking at an open air version of the Gem Saloon, only with a lot more litter and detritus because the pub hasn’t been staffed to deal with a sixfold increase in clientele. There’s a constant irritable queue at the bar, so no-one has time to collect the empties.

If no-one’s been knifed or shot dead by closing time, then the landlord will count up the takings, chalk it up as a win and deal with the post traumatic stress later.

All those people who thought “beer garden!” and envisaged calmly lounging around in the sun – this is what they actually get. But then they forget. They’ll think the same thing again the next year. Maybe even the following week.

The point is, some things in life consistently fail to measure up to our expectations, but somehow our expectations remain the same.

Which just about brings us back to David Warner, who almost certainly wouldn’t have been picked for this summer’s Ashes if he weren’t David Warner.

What do we mean by that? We mean that everyone remembers all those many times that Warner has been a fantastic batter and those memories rather mask the fact that his case for inclusion this time around is fundamentally a story of uselessness.

We’d pick him, by the way. We’d pick him because he’s canny and skilful and committed and above all just an incredibly fun addition to any Test series, no matter who you’re supporting.

But he is also a batter who has been given 25 Test innings in the UK without ever making a hundred. That’s a lot of chances even before you factor in that he averaged just 9.50 over the course of his last series in England. That whole Stuart Broad v David Warner recurring castastrophe was freakish but also a symptom of something fairly predictable.

And it’s not like his performances in England are some weird aberration. If you play 103 Test matches, you give people a pretty clear idea what you can do. Warner averages 26.04 in England; 26.90 in the West Indies; 25.22 in Sri Lanka; 21.78 in India; and 13.00 in New Zealand. He has hit a hundred in precisely none of these places.

Warner’s 25 hundreds break down like this: one in the UAE, two in Bangladesh, three in South Africa, 19 in Australia.

That last one’s exceptional. How can you not pick a guy who’s made 19 hundreds in just one country? The sun’s out, the whole summer’s ahead of us, let’s give this thing another whirl.

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  1. Do the Aussies perhaps think that we’ll magically develop tarmac pitches, so Warner can finally show he can bat somewhere outside of Oz?

  2. Speaking personally, when it’s suddenly hot, but there is no prospect of getting to soke cricket, that’s the best time to find a cool indoor-only bar or pub which is suddenly very quiet, for speedy service, uninterrupted conversation and the chance to have a couple of beers without unduly increasing the risk of skin cancer.

    1. To *some* cricket, not soke cricket, I tend to prefer the County Championship to the minor-administrative-district-level game.

      (Insert joke about Yorkshire)

  3. There is a fundamental flaw in the logic of this article.

    If the Aussies don’t pick David Warner for the Ashes, it is orders of magnitude more likely that Warner might be seen in a bar or beer garden this summer.

    While we might debate the relative merits or demerits of the quiet bar verses the heaving beer garden, I expect we can all agree on the one thing we most want to avoid when remembering and planning to visit our “halcyon respite” drinking establishment? The pub bore.

    David Warner is surely a quintessential pub bore and should be kept otherwise occupied at all costs.

    Ergo, Warner should be picked for the Aussies Ashes squad.

  4. Does the selection of Warner make the selection of Broad more likely? The latter is by no means guaranteed

      1. It’s the Lord’s slope.

        The only thing I’d had a few too many of was tennis balls beating me for pace, spin or both.

        It was brass monkey temperature too, so I thought I did quite well to stay reasonably steady when I took those shots…which is more than could be said for my tennis shots.

  5. I thought the whole setting up of the analogy was the best part of this article, but that was till I clicked the link to “Gem Saloon”. That little hyperlink is the best part of this article. From the wiki page:

    “The Gem was damaged by fire in the summer of 1879 and repaired, but then very soon destroyed in a major fire that devastated the town on September 26, 1879. Swearengen built an even larger and more grand establishment, reopening in December 1879 to adulation as the finest theater ever seen in Deadwood.

    In 1899, however, the Gem burned down once again, and a broke Swearengen declined to rebuild and left for Colorado. Despite the Gem’s history as Deadwood’s longest-lived entertainment institution, its support by so many of the town power brokers over the years, and the glowing tributes in the press after the rebuilt Gem was unveiled, after its demise it was reviled in the press as an evil institution and a town shame.”

    While I have no special love for Warner, I hope he doesn’t suffer a similar fate after retirement.

      1. The thing I found most peculiar was that the Gem Saloon replaced Swearengen’s earlier venture…the Cricket Saloon. Judging from the described activities, I think Americans may have some funny ideas about what “cricket” is, but it’s surprising it isn’t more popular there as a result.

  6. In honour of the departed, I can’t help wondering which Australian cricketers could be a hoax perpetuated on us by Barry Humphries. Shane Warne might just have been too absurd to be a Humphries character, but that’s a close call. Several archetypal Aussies of the eighties could easily have been part of a repertoire that ranged from Dame Edna to Sir Les to Sandy Stone. To give David Warner his due, he’s the only one of the current lot that I could imagine Humphries bothering with. If Netflix Down Under ever stoops so low as to make The Men In White (Or Green And Gold, Depending On How Many Days The Format Lasts) then by the later seasons, once the glory days are over, the remaining hardcore fans will surely be wondering whether the incident in the Walkabout was real or not. “Anything that golden had to be scripted!” the sceptics will say. Well, maybe they’re right…

      1. Given certain not-especially-dissimilarities with Sir Les’s drinking habits, David “52” Boon could easily have been a spin-off character. At the tail end of his broadcasting career, I’m pretty sure that under the desk, Richie Benaud was wearing Sandy Stone’s slippers. Not sure what it says about me that Stone is my favourite Humphries character… but perhaps not entirely unrelated to why I miss Richie’s soothing tones so much!

      2. Indeed, Bail-out – Sandy Stone’s monologues (and voice) were like a cross between Richie Benaud’s and John Arlott’s commentary.

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