Hobart, Dec 12: David Warner defied his doubters and rewarded his backers by carrying his bat Monday for an unbeaten 123 in his second test, but it was the only highlight for Australia in its seven-run loss to New Zealand.
The discipline and patience he showed should dismiss the impression that the hard-hitting opener lacked the concentration to play anything more than Twenty20 games.
The 25-year old Warner has been a prolific run scorer in Australia's Twenty20 team since 2009 when he was plucked from obscurity to become the first Australian in 132 years to be selected for the national team without having played a first-class match.
In his debut T20 match against South Africa, Warner showed the kind of big hitting that has become his trademark by smashing 89 runs off 43 balls with seven boundaries and six sixes.
He has been less successful in the 50-over format, scoring only 210 runs from his 10 international matches, providing fodder to the critics who claimed he was a mere T20 specialist.
Regardless, the new-look Australian selection panel thought it worth a gamble on Warner when they handed him his test debut this month for the series opener against New Zealand at the Gabba in place of the injured Shaun Marsh.
Success did not come immediately, with innings of 3, 12 and 15 before his mature and enigmatic knock Monday.
“I've always had it in me in the four-day form,” Warner said. “This was a good opportunity to show people you're more than just a Twenty20 player and a one-day player.”
Resuming on 47 on Monday, Warner doggedly stuck around while veteran batsmen Ricky Ponting, captain Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey all lost their wickets cheaply as the hosts collapsed to 199-9 and needing 42 runs to win.
Warner and last batsman Nathan Lyon whittled the target down to single figures before Doug Bracewell claimed Lyon as his sixth dismissal of the innings.
“I want to pay a lot of credit to David Warner,” Clarke said “Scoring his first test match hundred was outstanding today.
“He's an amazing talent and has been for a long time,” he added. “He's been keen to get an opportunity to play test cricket for Australia. He's made the most of his chances in Twenty20 and one-day cricket and he's shown the world again today that he's here to stay in test cricket as well.”
Warner was named man of the match for his 170-ball knock that lasted more than five hours and featured 14 fours—nobody else in either team got close to a century on the lively green wicket at Bellerive Oval.
“It's disappointing to get so close at the end there and not get across the line, but credit to New Zealand for the fight they put on there this morning and this afternoon,” he said.
New Zealand's win was its first on Australian soil since 1985, but captain Ross Taylor interrupted his celebrating to pay tribute to Warner, saying he “played outstandingly well.”
That one innings had propelled Warner from test outsider to one of the few sure selections for the first test against India starting Dec. 26. His opening partner Phil Hughes will be at long odds to retain his place, while there are growing doubts about the future of veteran pair Ponting and Hussey.