David Warner credited Ricky Ponting for helping him rediscover his best form after sharing a round of golf with the former Australia captain.
Warner ended a run of four consecutive single-figure scores in the Ashes with a battling 61 at Headingley, standing defiant alongside fellow half-centurion Marnus Labuschagne (74) as the tourists subsided to 179 all out.
Jofra Archer starred once again for England, returning figures of 6-45 – including the pivotal wicket of Warner, who edged a lifter behind when the score was 136-2.
Resistance was negligible from that point on as Archer and England made the most of helpful conditions on a gloomy Leeds evening, but Warner could at least reflect on a personal battle won.
“It’s been challenging but coming into it mentally I felt like I was in form. I’ve had three balls where I probably couldn’t have done anything with them,” he told a post-match news conference, having played and missed frequently against his series nemesis Stuart Broad. “I’ve worked my backside off in the nets as well.
“Today was about trying to negate that good ball and not get out to it. I had a lot of luck, I played and missed quite a lot but I kept my bat nice and tight.
“I was very pleased with the way I adjusted very well. I moved across a little bit more so my bat was covering that off stump.”
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Warner and Labuschagne added 111 from 138 balls as England’s discipline deserted them in the first hour of an elongated final session and there was no danger of the former’s natural aggression being cast aside after a few holes with Ponting.
“Going out on the golf course with Ricky was great, it’s always good to have my mate around and just let your hair down,” he said. “He was all about making sure I’m still backing my gameplan, looking to get forward and looking to hit the ball.
“I know when I’m looking to hit the ball my defence takes care of itself and I’m compact. I was fortunate enough that it came off. Obviously, you get another good ball there but can’t do anything about it.”
As he did when playing as a concussion substitute for Steve Smith at Lord’s, Labuschagne raised his bat in the absence of Australia’s talisman in their middle order.
Warner feels his team-mate’s time in the County Championship with Glamorgan this season is paying dividends.
“I thought he was outstanding, his discipline was outstanding,” Warner added. “Him coming over here and playing that stint of county cricket, scoring some runs and knowing where his off stump is, I know he has worked really hard on that.
“He has a lot of fight in him. We talked our way through our innings out there, we rebounded a lot of positive comments and he kept telling me about being disciplined and making sure I’m holding my shape, which was great getting reassurance from a youngster.”