Cricket Australia Items/Blogs/brett-mckay/2012/1/14/cyclone-warner

Brett McKay

Cyclone Warner

14 January 2012

It’s always a good start to your day as a captain when you win the toss, especially when you winning the toss has been a less than 50/50 prospect.

For Tests at the WACA, once again resuming its former reputation as the fastest, bounciest 22-yard strip of turf in the world, winning the toss becomes even more vital.  

Both Australian and India showed the same intention toward the Third Test, shedding a spinner from Sydney and bringing a fourth paceman into their sides.  

It meant that one man was going to be very disappointed when the coin landed.

That man was Mehendra Singh Dhoni.

If Michael Clarke was happy about winning a toss for once, he would have been ecstatic when he came in for lunch.  

It’s a great morning of Test cricket to send the opposition in and take a few wickets, but when those wickets include some of the best and most destructive batsmen in cricket history, well, you’re quite entitled to a grin while you tackle your Vegemite sandwich.

Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Gambhir; all gone by lunch.  

It was a morning to savour among some already superb bowling displays from the Aussie quicks this series.

Radios were still being tuned and morning coffees sipped in Perth when Ben Hilfenhaus removed Sehwag with a corker delivery that drifted out and then seamed away further taking Sehwag’s edge on the way.  

Ponting took a really good low down catch at second slip too, which would have pleased him after grassing a much easier catch in Sydney last week.

Dravid was a touch unlucky, bowled by Siddle off his pads, but in truth, his 35-ball innings was in danger of becoming a play-and-miss-athon.  

Ryan Harris, particularly, beat Dravid’s bat so often he must’ve been wondering if it was regulation width.

As he often does, Siddle struck in his first over, with Dravid managing to get himself outside the line of a leg side delivery, which then cannoned back onto the stumps.  

It was an inauspicious dismissal, but a well-deserved wicket for the Australians.

Then came the double blow just before lunch.  

Tendulkar copped a ripping Harris inswinger plumb in front, and an over later, Gambhir hung his edge out to meet a Hilfenhaus delivery, and the Aussies were happy campers.

India had to dig in after lunch, and to their credit, VVS Laxman and Virat Kohli did that very well for a period, adding a vital 68 for the fifth wicket in around 100 minutes.  

The Australians got a little wayward in this middle session, too, and Kohli was happy to help himself to anything coming onto his hip.  He’s struggled so far all series, but he was starting to look very comfortable by now.

Australia needed a breakthrough.  

Enter fellow Cricket Australia blogger, Cameron Rose, who last week in Sydney I’d unknowingly sat metres away from in the press box.

Commenting on Twitter, Cam offered up, “Fancy that Siddle is going to get his first crack downwind soon.  Just the sort of partnership he's inclined to break too.”

Now, I don’t know if Cam’s arrangement with is similar to mine or not, but what I do know is that mine doesn’t have a direct connection to Michael Clarke.  

And not only did Clarke bring Siddle on downwind moments later, but Siddle got the breakthrough in just his second over back, with Kohli slashing to David Warner at point.

Then, just for fun, Siddle got Laxman five balls later, caught by the skipper at first slip.  

Within sight of Tea, India were promptly in trouble again.  Well played, Cam, well played. 

On the resumption, India would last only 5.2 overs, and lost their last four wickets for nine runs to be all out 161.  

The Australian quicks finished nice and sequentially; Hilfenhaus took four wickets, Siddle three, Starc two, and Harris the very big one of SR Tendulkar.

If it wasn’t already Australia’s day, the cherry was about to arrive on top.

Another cyclone hit Western Australia in the afternoon, but this one was localised to within the WACA, and really only destroyed Indian bowling, and possibly a few drinks in the outer.  

No-one saw Cyclone Warner coming.

There’s any number of remarkable elements about David Warner’s 69-ball hundred, but one that sticks out for me is that his pace started quick and just accelerated.  

He was already going at a run-a-ball after his first six deliveries; after 16 balls he was already 20, and just 20 balls later he brought up his fifty.

From there he just went nuts, had a run-in with Ishant Sharma, and ended that battle by putting Sharma’s fourth ball into the Lillee-Marsh Stand.  

He got hit behind the ear, hit the next two balls for four, spent a whole five balls getting through the Nineties (two of which were dots), and raised the equal-fourth fastest century in Test cricket history with yet another long bomb into the Lillee-Marsh Stand.

I thought Adam Gilchrist’s fireworks against England in Perth on 2006/07 would take some topping, but Warner has at the very least equalled it.  

It was simply a phenomenal knock, a superlative display of strokeplay and power hitting.

Warner’s explosion even dragged Ed Cowan along with him, with Cowan finishing the day unbeaten on 40 from 58 balls, as the two put on Australia’s highest opening partnership of the domestic summer, and their first century stand together.

Unbelievably, Australia will resume on Day 2 on 0/149, trailing India by only 12 runs.  Australia batted for only 23 overs and ticked along at an astonishing 6.47 runs per over.

It’s been a horrible toss for India to lose, while Australia Day came 13 days early.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
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