Headingley was decidedly cool in its appreciation of David Warner when he walked off the ground after his innings of 61 on Thursday.

The chorus of boos as he departed after his first meaningful contribution of the Ashes series was entirely predictable – as one third of the sandpaper trio, Warner is a marked man this summer.

But you would have thought ground full of Yorkshiremen would have at least appreciated the Australian opener’s cussedness.

“It’s ridiculous,” admonished Geoff Boycott, one of their own. “Come on Yorkshire. You’re better than that.”

The truth is Warner is a hard sell. If you want an Aussie anti-hero look no further.

To the Leeds crowd, he was as popular as a hacking cough in a crowded train carriage.

Sledger-in-chief until the zip was applied in the wake of Australia’s cultural rebrand after their ball-tampering crimes, he has tried to mend his ways since his return but somehow he never quite convinces as a born-again nice guy.

The punters came with their preconceptions and on a patchwork day of interruptions, Warner did little to curry their favour by marching off in double-quick time towards the sanctuary of Headingley’s cubist pavilion with a broad grin on his face while the umpires were still pondering a bad light break. They, and England, soon followed.

If that suggested he was happier to be sat with his feet up then it was hardly surprising in conditions made to measure for England’s bowlers.

Early on in his innings Warner resembled a man in a pitch-black room searching for the light switch. Beaten four times in a row in Stuart Broad’s second over, the left hander groped and poked at thin air more often than he made contact.

“It was very challenging in that first half hour. I probably played and missed 35 times but that happens and a little bit of luck comes into it. You just have to work out how to survive,” said Warner.

It was fiendishly difficult going and when you are out of touch as Warner has been in this series so far it was doubly so. Before Thursday, he had cobbled together just 18 runs at an average of 4.5 which ranked 12th out of the 13 Australians to take guard.

With no Steve Smith, the tourists’ captain Tim Paine had called upon his other senior batsmen to fill the void collectively. He did not need to mention Warner by name but he did not have to.

With a large dollop of good fortune and a big chunk of tenacity, he answered the call, digging in to lead the fight for Australia.

There was one fine square cut to the boundary off Ben Stokes but his most effective source of runs was probably the overthrow.

He twice benefited from Joe Denly’s throws, with the first of two fives a homage to Stokes’s World Cup final game-changer as he accidentally deflected the ball past Stuart Broad and to the boundary via his bat.

A glove of apology was raised before it punched that of Marnus Labuschagne in unity mid-wicket.

On a day like Thursday with the ball darting around alarmingly, Australia took runs any which way they could.

Warner’s half-century, which stopped him equalling his worst run without one in Test cricket, came up with an unconvincing one-handed slice to the boundary over gully off Stokes.

His wife and children applauded at least.

Broad thought he had him caught behind on 61 only for Warner to appeal the decision successfully but the reprieve was shortlived as Jofra Archer induced a genuine edge with the second-quickest ball of the day.

He was nowhere near his destructive best but Headingley under a leaden sky is no place for fireworks.

Thursday demanded inner mongrel and Warner was never likely to fall short on that score.

source: express.co.uk


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