Australia’s vice-captain David Warner has conceded England caught the hosts “off-guard” in the opening ODI match after the Ashes, but denies he was unready for the pace of Mark Wood, who dismissed him cheaply to set the tone for Eoin Morgan’s team.
Pace and wicket-taking threat with the ball, combined with a hyper-aggressive batting approach, has been the hallmark of England’s limited-overs approach since they were swiftly eliminated from the 2015 World Cup, and Warner complimented the tourists on creating what he described as a “great balance” in their side.
He also echoed Glenn Maxwell’s criticism of the MCG, arguing that the pitches for Sunday’s ODI and Tuesday night’s Big Bash League match between Melbourne Stars and Sydney Sixers were less suited to the short forms than the lifeless surface prepared for the Boxing Day Test.
“Obviously they came out and played fantastically,” Warner said of England in Brisbane. “Sometimes when you walk out there after a long summer, you put your best foot forward and try your heart out but they caught us a little bit off guard. They played aggressive cricket and were the better team on the day.
“Any loss basically spurs you on. Coming here it’s a different wicket, I think Glenn Maxwell said it right the other day that they got the Test wicket, the one-day wicket and the T20 wicket mixed up. It’s always a nice wicket here at the Gabba, we’re expecting to come out here as we always do and put our best foot forward.”
In assessing his duel with Wood, which ended swiftly and very much in favour of the England fast man, Warner said the pitch had also been a factor, while Aaron Finch, playing in the BBL, had been facing faster bowlers than Australia’s Test team did in the Ashes. “I think the wicket helped that as well,” he said. “A bit of unevenness, a bit of grass coverage, it got us a bit quicker than you expect. It’s the same as our bowlers, they did the same job as well. With a bit of pace, facing what we have in the Test match and on wickets that weren’t as lively, it’s a different mode to get into.
“But you saw someone like Aaron Finch, who’s been facing guys in the high 140s in the Big Bash, getting exposed to white-ball stuff before us, it shows when you’re used to that you can come out and play the way you do. There’s no excuse from a batting perspective, we should be on all the time. I expected it from Woody. He’s always up in the high 140s, I expect nothing less from him, he’s always been an aggressive bowler. I faced him before so didn’t expect anything different.”
Steven Smith has suggested that Australia should learn from England’s limited-overs approach, and Warner concurred, describing Morgan’s men as “setting the benchmark”. “They’ve got a great balance and then you add Ben Stokes to the mix as well,” Warner said. “They have incredible depth with the batting and plenty of bowling options as well. They went in the other day with three quicks and two spinners, if you add Stokes to that line-up it’s an extra quick. They’re in a great space with their one-day team.
“They’ve had it for the last two years, the same team, led fantastically by Eoin Morgan. He knows his players and they know their role in the team. You know what they’re bringing to the table. They’ve played a different brand of cricket over the last 12 months, they’ve been aggressive up top and with the ball a bit of pace as well. They’re setting the benchmark at the moment and we’ve gotta come out and start well.”
These comments were met with some interest from the England opener Jonny Bairstow, who said it took more than a few public words to change the way a team went about its game. “It’s an individual team thing, isn’t it,” he said. “They can go out and copy what we do but it might not work for them. There’s people you’ve also got to have in your team to play around in order for you to score those 300s, 350s, 400s that we have done.
“So just saying ‘oh we’re going to try and do that’, that’s something that we’ve been working on for the last 18 months. So it’s a good thing that they’re looking at the way we’re playing because that means we’re obviously doing something right, and long may that continue with the group of players that we’ve got. We’re pushing each other at training every day, saying ‘how can we get better?’ With the line-up that we’ve got, we’ve got Adil Rashid and Liam Plunkett coming in at nine and 10, there’s firepower all the way down.”
Australia have only lost once to England at the Gabba in seven ODI meetings. “You’re always confident as an Australian batsman when you come and look at this wicket. It’s always got good bounce and carry for the bowlers as well,” Warner said. “You’ve got big square boundaries which the bowlers can use to their advantage as well. It’s a lot of running for the batsman. You try to keep in your mind that this ground has worked well in Australia’s favour, but we’ve got to be on the money.”