By: Chinmay Vaidya
David Warner was unstoppable.
No matter what Pakistan tried to do, Warner had an answer. He led the Australian run-scoring machine with 335 runs and stayed not out, securing the highest score at Adelaide in a Test match and the second-highest Test score by an Australian batsman in the process. With that triple hundred, Warner inches closer towards the ultimate legacy: a superstar in all three formats of cricket.
Warner has just over 6,900 Test runs, just under 5,000 one-day runs and just over 9,000 T20 runs. He's had to wait his turn in the one-day ranks due to Australia's dominant top orders, but Warner picked up the pace when he got his shot. He's tied for fourth in fastest to 4,000 ODI runs with Virat Kohli, taking 93 innings to reach the milestone. He has 41 international centuries across all formats, tied for 13th of all time. And now, his individual Test milestone allows him to check one more box.
It has been an interesting 24 months for Warner. He was dominating the game as usual before the infamous ball-tampering scandal kept him out of cricket for 12 months. Warner returned for the 2019 IPL and picked up right where he left off, accumulating 692 runs in 12 matches. That was 99 more runs in two less games than KL Rahul, who finished in second place. Warner continued his brilliance at the 2019 World Cup, but Australia failed to defend its title. Then, he had a horrendous Ashes series before returning to home soil and dominating.
As Australia gears up for a huge Test series with New Zealand as part of the World Test Championship, Warner's chase for ultimate greatness comes into focus. He's 33 but looks good to play at least through the 2023 World Cup, a tournament he excels in. Warner put up 345 runs in Australia's 2015 triumph at a ridiculous 120.20 strike rate. He poured in 647 runs in 10 2019 World Cup matches, albeit at a strike rate of 89.36. His three centuries and three half-centuries were big improvements from the 2015 campaign.
Warner is one of 10 players currently holding more than 8,000 T20 runs. Factor in 8,000 one-day runs and that list gets trimmed to four. Add in 8,000 Test runs and AB de Villiers stands alone but Kohli and Warner are close. To be one of only three players to cross the 8k plateau in all formats would be the capper for a player who has already won a World Cup and will likely get two more chances at the T20 World Cup, one more World Cup and a World Test Championship. Ironically, Warner and Kohli's race for these accolades comes at the same time.
To realistically have a shot at crossing 8k runs in the Test and one-day arenas, Warner will have to play through the 2023 World Cup. That'll give him three more seasons and a tournament he historically does well to cross both thresholds.
Warner has 149 Test innings to date with an true average of 46.6 runs per inning. To reach 8,000 Test runs assuming he keeps the same pace, Warner will need just 23 more innings. Throw in some chunk scores and he could cross the milestone even quicker.
In the one-day game, the equation is a bit tougher. Warner arrived late to the party, but still crossed 4,000 runs in 93 innings. He'll likely cross 5,000 the next time he appears in a one-day game in inning No. 115. So how many innings will he need to hit the magic 8k, assuming he hits 5,000 in the next ODI match he plays?
Here's what Warner did to reach 4,000 and 5,000 runs, respectively. Using those scoring rates and factoring in potential decline with age, we can predict if Warner is likely to hit 8,000 one-day runs.
Warner crossing 4,000 runs: 93 innings, 43.01 runs per inning
Warner from 4,000 to 5,000 runs: 115 innings, 45.45 runs per inning
Because Warner arrived late to the one-day party, his production curve isn't exactly typical of someone with these volume milestones. Warner is still scoring at a similar rate despite entering his mid-30s, a good sign for his chase. Still, we should factor in some decline. Let's assume Warner takes roughly 10% more time to reach each of the next milestones. Here's what his inning count would look like and how many runs he would score per inning in each thousand run band.
Warner to reach 6,000 runs: 139 innings, 41.67 runs per inning
Warner to reach 7,000 runs: 165 innings, 38.46 runs per inning
Warner to reach 8,000 runs: 194 innings, 34.48 runs per inning
To hit 194 innings, Warner would have to add 80 attempts to his current tally. A World Cup would take between nine and 11 away from that number in a short span, but that still puts Warner in his late 30s attempting to cross 8k. If he scores at 45.45 runs per inning with zero decline, he'll project to hit 8,000 ODI runs in by inning No. 180.
The 2023 World Cup will be key in Warner's chase. If he can repeat his 2019 performance, that would shave off significant runs from his ultimate chase. He'll hit the Test milestone and his T20 record is already set, but will Warner cement himself as one of the all-time greats across formats with his ODI performance?