File photo of Australia opener David Warner. (Getty Images)
Brisbane: After hitting the England bowlers all around the Gabba compiling his first Ashes century, David Warner saved a few shots at the opposition for after stumps.
"Our bowlers are bowling fast at the moment. England are on the back foot," he said in a provocative post-stumps news conference on Saturday. "It does look like they've got scared eyes at the moment."
The combative left-hander was under immense pressure coming into the series after his last Ashes tour to England, where he was dropped for two Tests for punching English batsman Joe Root in a night club. That was just one in a string of disciplinary issues that have threatened to derail his career, including a Twitter tirade against two veteran journalists.
He responded by scoring 49 in the first innings of the series here and improved on that with 124 on Saturday - his fourth Test hundred and first against England.
The innings was sprinkled with the kind of powerful and extravagant strokes which have made the 27-year-old Warner a celebrity in the shortened format of the game, including 13 boundaries and a long, driven six that clattered into the sightscreen. He was out three balls later, though, caught behind trying to play it cute by angling a Stuart Broad delivery through third man.
Still, his 158-run partnership with Australian captain Michael Clarke (113) put Australia on course for a total of 401 for 7 declared in the second innings, giving them a 560-run lead and an extremely good chance of taking a 1-0 series lead.
In reply, England slumped to 10 for 2, with Michael Carberry (0) and Jonathan Trott (9) failing to see off the new ball. Trott played a rash and unnecessary shot to Mitchell Johnson and was easily caught. Kevin Pietersen went to the crease and was seemingly so eager to get off strike that he almost ran out England captain Alastair Cook. That came after an English batting collapse in the first innings that cost them six wickets for nine runs in a 58-ball demolition.
"The way that [Trott] got out today was pretty poor and weak," Warner said. "Obviously there's a weakness there and we're on top of it at the moment."
There was clearly antagonism between rival players on the field, which is the norm for the Ashes series. Warner has been the target of England's traveling 'Barmy Army' of fans and from the critics. So he had a bit of advice for Trott on that spicy chatter front, too.
"I think he's got to get new sledges as well because it's not working for him at the moment," Warner said. "He's probably worked hard in the nets on the short ball, but trying to face 150 kph short ball from Mitch Johnson, the way to go is probably not trying to back away."
Not that Warner is the type to back away from anything.
He attributes his resurgence with the bat to being in a committed relationship and working with a sports psychologist since the last Ashes series finished in August, the extra time at home coming when he was dropped from Australia's limited-overs squad for a tour to India due to poor form. The runs, he said, are more designed to redeem himself with his team-mates than in the eye of the public.
"I'm just going about my business the way I have to to score runs for the team," he said. "And that's what I have to do.
"It's not about me getting the public perception back or anything, it's about me trying to do my best for the team, and us trying to be in position to win games."
On the latter objective, he's close. No team has scored more than 418 in the fourth innings to win a Test match. England have two days and eight wickets in hand to try it.