David Warner has given selectors a timely reminder of just what he can do, after he got Australia off to a storming start in the first T20I against the West Indies.
The 37-year-old has been in a lean trot since his Test and ODI retirements last month, leading to speculation he may not be on the plane to the T20 World Cup to be held in the West Indies and United States in June.
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Warner has started his life as a T20 gun for hire with 165 runs in 10 innings dating back to the Big Bash, averaging just 16.5 since his final Test.
In the UAE’s ILT20 with the Dubai Capitals, Warner has averaged 14.38 from eight innings and a strike rate of 98.29.
It’s a long way short of his career average of 36.94 in T20 cricket.
But with the likes of Jake Fraser-McGurk and Josh Inglis impressing in the ODI series and no shortage of players wanting to open for Australia ahead of the World Cup, Warner was no doubt feeling the pressure.
As per usual, Warner answered the critics with another timely knock, smashing 70 off 36 as he got Australia off to a belter of a start in the first T20I of the three-match series against the West Indies.
It was a milestone match for Warner, who became the first Australian and third player ever to play 100 matches in all three formats, joining New Zealand’s Ross Taylor and Virat Kohli.
And with his 70 in his 100th T20I, Warner becomes the first player to score more than 50 in his 100th Test, where he scored 200 against South Africa, 100th ODI, where he scored 124 off 119 balls against India, and 100th T20I match.
Speaking on Fox Cricket before play, Mark Waugh said he didn’t believe Warner was a lock to make the T20 World Cup.
By the halfway mark, Waugh was convinced Warner would likely be on the plane.
“He’s probably in now,” Waugh said. “There are so many options for the Australian selectors, just super talented players who could easily fill the role up top.
“But David Warner, he’s a great player, he’s got a great record so he’s probably going to be in. It’s going to be a matter of who’s with him.”
Warner got straight to work as Australia fell just six runs short of the nation’s best ever powerplay, racing to 0/77 off the first six overs.
Warner was especially impressive, bring up a half century off just 22 balls, equalling Australia’s 10th fastest T20I fifty.
For the record, Warner also has the equal second (18 balls against the West Indies in 2010), equal fifth (19 balls against South Africa in 2009) and equal seventh (20 balls against New Zealand in 2018).
Speaking to Fox Cricket as he came on to field, Warner said it was good to find some form.
“Good to get some timing back,” he said. “I’ve been working on being nice and still and balanced. Tonight is just one of those venues that just takes you square, so I was just conscious on hitting straight.”
It was an impressive performance for Warner, particularly after he was ordered home for the series from his commitments with Dubai.
After putting on 93 runs in eight overs for the opening stand with Inglis, Warner was eventually dismissed to leave Australia 3/135.
After losing 4/30 in the middle of the innings, Australia looked to have lost its way.
But Tim David and Matthew Wade guide Australia passed 200 with an over to go as Australia finished with 7/213 from its 20 overs.