‘He was daring them’: 15yo Warner’s shock gamble that marked him for greatness – Fox Sports

Kerry O’Keeffe says he knew David Warner would either “go to the moon or sink without a trace” after watching the left-hander bat as a 15-year-old.
Speaking to The Follow-On podcast, O’Keeffe reflected on the illustrious career of Warner, who will play his 100th Test on Boxing Day, becoming just the 14th Australian to reach the milestone.
Ahead of the occasion, O’Keeffe recalled watching the left-hander bat in the nets as a teenager 21 years ago, when his tenacity and bravery were already key traits of his game.
The Fox Cricket expert said Warner stood out then as a player who could potentially go far — that is, if he wasn’t to suddenly vanish.
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“I saw him at 15 in the pathways program in the indoor nets without a helmet facing fast bowlers and daring them to bowl short to him,” O’Keeffe told the podcast.
“And I knew there that this kid is either going to go to the moon or sink without trace.
“100 Tests later as a Test batsman, he’s still there.”
While the Boxing Day Test was marked as an occasion to celebrate Warner’s weighty contribution to Australia, he now enters the match as a man under pressure.
Warner is averaging just 20.61 in Test cricket in 2022, while that numbers sinks to just 17.50 from three matches this summer.
At 36 years old, people are starting to question whether this will be the last summer Warner wears the Australian whites.
Regardless of what happens from here, O’Keeffe said that Warner already goes down as one of Australia’s two greatest Test openers.
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“In most people’s best ever Test teams, he opens with Matthew Hayden,” O’Keeffe said. “To maintain a strike rate of over 70 through 100 Tests is phenomenal. He’s decided games.”
Warner is just 78 runs away from becoming just the eighth Australian to pass 8,000 Test runs.
Of the 12 Australians to have passed 7,000, Warner’s strike rate of 71.18 is 11.08 higher than anyone’s.
The left-hander’s run of form is, however, a cause for concern, while Warner himself flagged at the start of the summer that he could be in the final 12 months of his Test career.
Meanwhile, he’s still chasing his first Test century in nearly three years, having not gone past three figures since playing New Zealand in January 2020.
O’Keeffe said he hopes Warner has more centuries in him, but warned that, at 36 years old, time is ultimately against him.
“Father Time is just maybe starting to get the better of him. He’s 36 and Father Time knocks you out eventually or beats you on points,” he said.
“You sense that Father Time is his greatest enemy. His average has gone, over the last six years, from 51 to 45.
“Has he got a big couple of innings in him? Let’s hope so. I think most of Australia would will him to that – he’s been through a lot. But on the evidence we’ve seen, bowlers are starting to get the better of him.”

O’Keeffe flagged Warner’s upcoming battle with South Africa quick Kagiso Rabada as pivotal in the opener’s fight to keep the critics at bay.
Rabada dismissed Warner for 0 and 3 in Brisbane last week, taking his all-time tally against the Australian to six dismissals at 17.66 runs apiece.
No bowler to have dismissed Warner more than four times in Test cricket has a better average.
“The big match-up against Kagiso Rabada is going to say a lot about where David Warner is,” O’Keeffe said. “Rabada won the battle in Brisbane, admittedly on a very sporting pitch, but if Rabada beats him twice in this game, harder questions are going to be answered. So I’m looking forward to it.”
He added: “I’ve been a David Warner fan forever. I’ve watched him as a teenager go from T20 slogger to formidable Test batter. I’m willing him runs. But it’s tough at 36 with your Test average plummeting.
“Has he got 12 months in him? It would be a feat if he has. But given it’s his 100th Test, he may lift.”


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