It goes without saying that David Warner is not your conventional Test cricketer. That has been a hallmark of his career ever since he made his international T20 debut without having played first-class cricket.
He was the first to play at such a level without having played any first-class cricket since 1877 and as a player borne out of the hit-and-giggle era; his approach to Tests has been a breath of fresh air.
On Tuesday, in the opening Test against India, Warner once again showed how the unconventional can be utterly thrilling. He hit a blistering 145 off 163, helping to propel Australia to 354-6 at the close of play on the first day.
Following the tragic death of Phil Hughes, the first day was always going to be emotional for everyone involved. Warner, who was with Hughes right from the moment he got hit, dedicated the knock to him. When he reached his hundred, he raised his bat and arched his head to the sky in acknowledgement of his fallen friend.
Warner is often called impulsive, because of his personal disregard for the stats that so many other players keep a watchful eye on. He just plays in the way he likes to play. Sometimes it’s a bit more patient, more often than not, it’s with disregard for everything you’ve read in a textbook.
But this knock was different. While the scorecard might suggest that he played in his usual devil-may-care approach, it was far more cautious than that. Even the seven boundaries that came off his first 15 deliveries were calculated and calm. His only failure was deep into his innings as he tried to assert the hosts’ dominance even further.
Having had a field day off the bowling of Karn Sharma (he'd scored 42 runs off him, including more boundaries than off any other bowler), Warner just let his guard down for a split second. In the 57th over, Warner came charging down the track in an attempt to slap Sharma for yet another boundary. Instead, he hit the ball straight to the fielder, but he had already done his job.
It was so typically Warner and it has become such a delightful treat to watch. He’s had a tremendous year with the bat and the hundred he scored against India on Tuesday took his run tally for the year 2014 to 959, the most for any opener. It was also his fifth century in his last 10 Test innings. That same period also includes three fifties.
He's now also the fourth fastest Australian to 10 tons in Test cricket and he averages 50.4 when opening. Warner is only the fifth Australian opener to tally 2,000-plus runs at an average of 50 or more.
While the Indian bowlers rarely tested Warner, he had to overcome his emotion. At the post-match press conference he said:
It was quite tough early on with the 63 seconds applause. The national anthem set me off a little bit inside. Then coming out and playing the way I did there was a lot of adrenaline there and I had to really bring it back after I got going.
Got going he did and he will continue to do so. A few years ago, when Warner was still finding his feet in international cricket, the great Virender Sehwag told him that he'd be a better Test player than he is a T20 player. Warner, brash and blunt as always, responded by saying: "Mate, I've not even played a first-class game yet."
That was before Warner had even made his Test debut. Now, three years since stepping out in Test whites for the first time, it looks like Sehwag knew exactly what he was talking about. And those who savour cricketing innovation couldn't be more pleased.
All quotes obtained firsthand. All stats via ESPN Cricinfo.