There is no place to hide for a batsman if a top-class bowler gets on top of him in a long Test series, as David Warner would testify after his miserable Ashes campaign. Apart from a score of 61 in the first innings of the Headingley game, the other nine innings for the left-hander read 2, 8, 3, 5, 0, 0, 0, 5 and 11. That’s a total of 95 runs in 10 innings at an average of 9.5, the lowest-ever return for an opener in a five-Test series. Going by his struggles in the series, one wouldn’t think he is closing on 6,500 Test runs at over 45 (the average was a bit higher at the start of the series) and has hit 21 hundreds.
Seven of the dismissals have come at the hands of Stuart Broad, with the veteran England paceman getting the Aussie opener in every conventional way – caught behind the wicket, bowled, lbw. Warner failed to get past Broad’s opening spell in all but one of his knocks, the round-the-wicket angle and movement either way was too much for him to handle.
How the cookie crumbled
1st Test, 1st innings: lbw b Broad 2
A faint tickle down the legside went undetected by the umpire (England also didn’t go for a review), but the reprieve was temporary. The ledger was balanced when the opener missed a full and, presumably, straight one to be adjudged lbw. However, the predicted path of the ball on the replay had it missing the leg-stump on the round-the-wicket angle. Warner didn’t challenge.
1st Test, 2nd inns: c Bairstow b Broad 8
After hitting Broad for two boundaries in the over — one genuine, one edged — the bowler prompts indecision with his tight line on off-stump and movement both ways. Warner tries to take the bat away at the last moment, but the back-of-a-length ball kicked up more than he anticipated and took almost the toe end of the willow on its way to Jonny Bairstow.
2nd Test, 1st inns: b Broad 3
A useful nip-backer dislodges a bail.
3rd Test, 2nd inns: lbw b Broad 0
After scoring a gutsy 61 in the first innings, Warner would have thought he had turned the corner. But it proved to be a false dawn. Again, Broad was his tormentor from round the wicket, a ball seaming in from wide of the crease, doing just enough to hit him in line of the stumps and homing in on leg-stump.
4th Test, 1st inns: c Bairstow b Broad 0
A tight line on off-stump again proves to be Warner’s downfall. He tries to let it go but decides too late and edges it to the keeper.
4th Test, 2nd inns: lbw b Broad 0
A full and straight ball traps Warner on the crease again as he grabs a pair and three ducks in a row.
5th Test, 2nd inns: c Burns b Broad 11
By this time, Warner’s head was a mess. A length ball outside off stump, one which normally would elicit a leave. But the left-hander pokes at it and it makes its way into the slip cordon to cap off a nightmare.
One can’t blame Warner for not trying to counter the Broad threat. He started the series with a middle-and-off-stump guard, but after a few lbw dismissals, started showing more of his stumps to the bowler. One can make out the changes in his stance as the series went on, clouding his judgement. This made the outside edge of his bat vulnerable, as he wasn’t sure where his off-stump was. Any bowler who has the ability to move the ball away from the left-hander from round the stumps will always be a potent threat, and the Dukes ball, English conditions, and Broad’s craft were too much for Warner.