“I’ll never forget the four fours he hit in a row against Morne Morkel at Port Elizabeth,” Rogers told ESPNcricinfo.
“Morne was not bowling medium pace either and he’s nearly seven-foot tall,” Rogers said. “It was just…it was some of the best batting I had ever seen. At that stage, he had this ability to pick up the length. That’s probably what separates him from others.”
There will be those who point to the fact that the batter Rogers is describing is nearly eight years removed from the man who just turned 35 over a month ago.
Father time is undefeated and opinions have been cast about how George Bailey and Australia’s selectors may have a tough decision to make on Warner sooner rather than later. How the frantic search for a player to partner Warner might not be the biggest elephant in the room, but rather, Warner’s form itself.
Australia’s selectors have a problem for sure. But it is not about Warner’s form, it is replacing him in the long term whenever he does finish playing.
Never mind his player of the tournament performance at the T20 World Cup. Test match openers with 7000 runs at an average 48 and 24 Test hundreds don’t grow on trees. You can’t just order one for Christmas, let alone two.
“Without a doubt, he’d be among the most talented players I have batted with,” Rogers said. “And I’ve been lucky enough to bat with some good ones. But he definitely stands out from that point of view.
“When you bat with him, the opposition wasn’t actually overly concerned with what you were doing. They were always concerned with what he was doing.
“It was almost like a mark of respect for him because they knew that he could ruin the game within a session. Whereas the guy down the other end, they were comfortable that he would have to bat two or three sessions or more to change the game.
“But David could turn the game just like that. So, it was one of the benefits of batting down the other end with him. It was almost like you didn’t exist.”
“Broad’s always been a bit of a bogey,” Rogers said. “And what people don’t understand, I found Broad really difficult as well. Somehow he would scramble the seam and even though it looked like he was shaping the ball one way, it wouldn’t always come out that way.
Watching him go out and take down some of the best bowlers in the world against the new ball is extraordinary because everyone wants to be able to do it but you can’t do it
Chris Rogers on David Warner
“There were times when I thought the ball was going to swing out and it would dart back in. It was really hard to line up.
“We’re not overly sympathetic of guys at times. Once you get to a certain level of performance, it’s not automatic that you’re going to stay at that level. You’re going to go in and out of form.”
As Warner proved in the World Cup, form is temporary and class is permanent. His axing by Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL fueled his motivation to solve the problem of his lack of runs.
“That’s probably one of the things I was most impressed with, how good a problem solver he is,” Rogers said. “I just expected him to have the attitude that, ‘I’m going to take down everyone’. But I would have conversations with him where you could see him think his way through situations.
“That seems like it should be pretty obvious, but it actually isn’t. Some guys would always have the mindset of ‘see ball, hit ball’, and that’s how they always played, but the best are not like that. The best are the ones who will manage the waves of the game and he would do it.”
Even when Warner has been absent, during both his ban and his groin injury last summer, such has been the distrust of the potential candidates in Shield ranks, he has been replaced by the likes of Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja and Matthew Wade who either had little recent experience opening at first-class level, or none at all in the case of Wade. Will Pucovski, who walked out alongside Warner last summer in his Test debut in Sydney, had opened in just five first-class innings prior to his selection.
“It’s a bit like when Gilly finished,” Rogers said. “Watching him go out and take down some of the best bowlers in the world against the new ball is extraordinary because everyone wants to be able to do it but you can’t do it.
“There are very, very few people who have been capable of that. Obviously, Hayden did, but that came with his size and his brute strength. In Australian conditions, most guys have got to grind their way through.”
One thing is for certain, Australian fans need to appreciate Warner while he is here. Because sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo