David Warner believes the remarkable early success of his ODI opening partnership with Travis Head is built on the similarity of their respective approaches rather than complementarity through contrast.
The two aggressive left-handers laid the platform for Australia’s six-wicket win over England in the first game of the three-match Dettol ODI Series at Adelaide Oval last night with a blazing 147-run first-wicket stand in less than 20 overs.
It lifted their aggregate across five ODI innings opening together to 493 at an average of 98.6 per match, with two century stands from that admittedly small sample size.
But not only do the newly minted pair hold the record for Australia’s first-wicket contribution in more than 50 years of ODI cricket – the 284 they put on against Pakistan at Adelaide Oval in 2017 – they are in rare company among all nations.
With Head filling the role previously occupied by now-retired ODI skipper Aaron Finch, who opened alongside Warner 80 times, the duo admit they are still finding their way as an international combination.
But as Warner noted after his 86 off 84 balls last night, with Head contributing 69 from 57 against the reigning ODI world champions, their all-out approach seems to be working thus far.
“I think we both play quite similar, we take the game on,” Warner said.
“You see with Trav and myself, if it’s full we’ll still play through the line and we like to go aerial, that’s the way we play.
“And anything short we try to punch pull or go with it.
“It’s coming off at the moment which is great, and hopefully we can keep continuing that success.”
Where that philosophy will be tested in the lead-up to next year’s 50-over World Cup in India is if both of them are gong hell for leather and the game situation dictates at least one of them throttle back.
As Australia’s second-most prolific ODI opening pair Adam Gilchrist and Mark Waugh noted in commentary for Fox Cricket during last night’s incandescent start, it’s rare for both openers to score at a frantic rate for any length of time during an innings.
Warner shared that assessment, and hinted that conditions such as those often found in the UK where the new ball is more prone to movement could force a change in strategy.
“You don’t really see too often that two batters go at the same time,” Warner said.
“But I think when it’s in your areas you’ve still got to back yourself, and moving forward we try to keep ultra-positive in that first 10 overs (power play) with the field the way it is.
“With swinging conditions, it might be a bit different, so we just have to play what’s in front of us.”
Only one other opening combination has batted together five or more times in ODI cricket and can boast an average in excess of 100, with Shikhar Dharwan and Shubman Gill posting three century stands for an average of 124.5 in their five innings together at the top of India’s order since 2020.
But it’s unclear if that pair will add to their stunning record in the 50-over format, whereas Warner and Head appear to be at the start of a union that could prosper until next year’s World Cup, or even longer if 36-year-old Warner finds the “second wind” he flagged at game’s end last night.
Having stated his motivation in white-ball cricket is to be involved in World Cup finals, Warner confirmed he plans to keep playing until next year’s global tournament with the possibility of pushing on for longer if form, fitness and enthusiasm allow.