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Ashes Betting: Dad of the Year Warner is Australia's one to watch

David Warner is channelling his aggression into his batting
David Warner is channelling his aggression into his batting
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As England's tour Down Under dissolves into more off-field problems, Ralph Ellis looks at how Australia's own bad boy has changed his approach.

"If Australia bat first in Perth the traditional bouncy pitch is perfect for him. He made 60 and 112 there in 2013 when England had a far more potent attack than they have got now."

David Warner has never lost the image of the guy who famously threw a punch at Joe Root in a Birmingham bar and probably threw away the Ashes at the same time.

He's still the Australian player most associated with the nastier side of some of the sledging that's gone on in this series - his was the voice picked up on the stump microphone saying "you shouldn't head butt our mates" which blew the Jonny Bairstow incident public.

But the reality behind all that is that Warner at 31 years old is very much a changed man. He's stopped drinking, he was voted "Dad of the Year" by the Australian public in 2016, and has employed a mind coach to channel his aggression into his performances.

He's also a model husband, and a lot of the reason he's brought a new maturity to his life is the influence of his wife Candice who is a professional triathlete. She's set the example of dedication to your sport and he's followed it.

Put all that together, and it's hard to argue that Warner at [4.7] isn't now the best bet to be the Top Series Runscorer of this Ashes.

He starts the third Test in Perth on Thursday morning just 22 behind current leader Shaun Marsh who has totalled 196, with Steve Smith squeezed between them on 187.

Smith is the [2.46] favourite, and also [1.92] to be Australia's top batsman and after his magnificent unbeaten 141 at The Gabba in the first Test it isn't hard to understand why.

But for all the Australian captain's brilliance in that knock, which effectively set up the first win that gave his side the momentum, there's no question that his unorthodox stance as he shuffles across his stumps can be as much weakness as strength.

Early in any innings he's vulnerable to an LBW. If the ball swings or seams at all he turns from the new Bradman into a rabbit.

Warner is a different animal altogether. He doesn't have a complete failure to his name so far, however disappointed he might have been at getting out for 26 in the first knock in Brisbane and failing to build on a start. Who knows how many more he could have got second time round if the Aussies hadn't completed their 10 wicket win when he'd reached 87.

Even the 14 he made in the 2nd innings in Adelaide was actually a masterclass in dealing with the difficult conditions under the lights, sacrificing his normal attacking style to take 60 balls over scoring 14.

After being appointed as Smith's vice-captain, Warner has become a leader in every sense of the word. He was the man who was most vocal on behalf of his team mates in the summer's pay row with Cricket Australia.

As opener he sets the tone for the innings, and if Australia bat first in Perth the traditional bouncy pitch is perfect for him. He made 60 and 112 there in 2013 when England had a far more potent attack than they have got now.

The image might never change. But Warner knows these days that scoring big runs is a much better way to give Root a bloody nose

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