David Warner launches into a drive

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David Warner would have been happy to get out nicking any one of the multiple deliveries Stuart Broad sent fizzing past his outside edge on a difficult day for batting at Headingley, but admitted Australia now had a significant challenge ahead of them to defend 179 in conditions and weather that are expected to improve in Leeds over the next two days.

Having entered the third Ashes Test without a double-figure score in four innings, Warner resolved to defend his off stump and also take opportunities to score whenever they arrived, finding a better balance between defence and attack than he had previously managed in the series.

During a stand of 110 in 23 overs with the highly impressive Marnus Labuschagne, Warner and Australia could see the potential for a first-innings total that would have set up the whole match, only to lose 8 for 43 to Jofra Archer"s brilliance and so leave the Test well and truly open to England.

"My theory has always been the same when I come to England," Warner said. "The first two wickets didn"t have as much dampness in them or weren"t going to seam as much and for me it"s about taking out that lbw equation but then not trying to get out nicked off from a good length ball and knowing where your off stump is there. You want them to come into your pads when you bat outside off and you can get the cheeky one inside midwicket, that"s the thought process behind it.

"Travis Head"s dismissal is the perfect dismissal that you don"t want to do as a left-hander. I don"t want to have the bat come down at an angle and exposing my off stump, so for me it was about going across a little bit, getting my bat in front of my pad, and that"s outside the line there. That"s my thinking, it always has been. 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.

"The first one [at Edgbaston] was just a lazy one I missed on my legs. But I"ve always felt like I"ve been in form and worked my backside off in the nets as well. Then 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. That"s what I wanted to do and I was happy to get out if a good ball was going to get me out. I was very pleased with the way I adjusted. I moved across a little bit more so my bat was covering that off stump, allowed me to leave a little bit more."

A pre-match round of golf with Ricky Ponting, who had been an assistant coach with Australia during the World Cup and has now returned as a commentator, was also useful for sorting through the many thoughts in Warner"s mind. "Going out on the golf course with Ricky was great, 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 game plan, looking to get forward and looking to hit the ball, and I know when I"m looking to hit the ball my defence takes care of itself and I"m compact. That was fortunate enough today that it came off, but obviously you get another good ball there but can"t do anything about it.

David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne were brilliant between the wickets Getty Images

"Our top order, we all got good balls. We always knew that partnership with me and Marnus, that"s how cricket goes, you"re going to lose one straight away, if not the next five overs, but if you get through that, as a new batter, it can get a lot easier. Early back in their second spells there, it"s challenging. That"s the beauty of this game. It"s hard to start, especially when you have two world-class bowlers coming on who are hitting their line and length impeccably.

"You are always nice and sharp when you have a lot of movement out there, you have to commit to the front foot or the back foot, you can"t get caught on the crease. I look back on the [World Cup] game against Pakistan and I got some runs there, it was green, and the ball was swinging and nipping around, and same thing, I just held my line and I pounced on anything that was wide or short. Today, you weren"t going to get that from Broady or Jofra. They bowled unbelievable. It"s always challenging, but as a batsman you have to stay in a positive mindset. A play and miss is a good shot."

Having watched Labuschagne up close and been on the receiving end of his ever-active cricket brain, providing plenty of advice about how to survive in the middle, Warner had little hesitation dubbing him a long-term Test batsman for the future - albeit with a caveat over his batting position. "Definitely, [but] not at four, Steve Smith"s there," Warner said. "He"s just taken the bull by its horns, he"s got that opportunity and he"s working his backside off to reinstate himself into the Test arena and he is doing himself every favour by hanging in and batting the way he is, so obviously it wasn"t ideal that Steve couldn"t play but [Labuschagne] got another opportunity to come out and play. He"s a fantastic player and he has got a lot to offer and we have seen it first hand there.

"I though he was outstanding today, his discipline was outstanding, him coming over here and playing that stint of county cricket, scoring some runs and knowing where his off stump is ... 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."

The partnership between Warner and Labuschagne stood out boldly amid the rush of wickets either side of it, underlining that there will be opportunities for Australia to take wickets provided they maintain their discipline.

"For us it was about pushing the field," Warner said, "we always spoke about running between wickets and we pushed the field as much as we could. That can break up some tension when they"re bowling well, just little things we were ticking over in our minds, we were running hard, we were leaving well, but make sure we are being ultra positive and that"s probably why we got that period.

"We"ve got to come out tomorrow and hit the right lines and lengths, I think the weather is quite hot, it could dry the wicket out a lot. It"s a fast-scoring outfield so we have to hit the right line and length and try to shut the scoreboard down. It"s about discipline, they had the right phase today, they had the conditions in their favour but they put the ball in the right spot all the time so that"s the challenge."

Throughout his post-play press conference, Warner was being harangued by the chants of England fans who could see him speaking from outside the ground - typifying the abuse he has faced throughout the tour. "They are allowed to do want they want," he said. "They pay to come in and watch cricket and are allowed to carry on if they want.

"If they carry on too much they get evicted. For us we just worry about what we have to do. It"s hard enough trying to hit a swinging and seaming ball than worry about what the crowd are doing. They just come here to have fun, enjoy a good game of cricket and try and add some extra pressure on us. Some of us thrive on it like me, some of us don"t even listen to it."

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