David Warner holds fire in Ashes patience game with Jimmy Anderson | Adam Collins

Jimmy Anderson David Warner
David Warner fends off a short ball from Jimmy Anderson in a mini-contest worthy of documentation. Photograph: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

The impulse on sodden days is to say nothing much happened but there is a joy in our game in locating something meaningful from these moments. Fractals within fractals, where the greatest beauty sits within the deepest detail.

Sure, there will not be a documentary made about the middle session of day four of this Ashes Test, where 33 runs were tallied in not even 19 overs before rain intervened. When the Wisden bible reports on this middling fixture, it may not even warrant a line.

But the contest within a contest between two legitimate champions of the sport, Jimmy Anderson and David Warner, deserves documentation. A trio of maidens from one to the other, followed by a fended bouncer. Nineteen balls of patience and persistence, both participants quite aware that how they fared in the clash could have a sizable say on the result.

Before the break Warner watched from the other end while Cameron Bancroft chopped on and Usman Khawaja nicked off. The latter, from the bowling of Anderson, indicated that reverse swing had kicked in earlier than expected. With the hosts 99 in arrears, another stumble would mean England were kicking with the wind towards victory.

In Anderson’s two earlier bites at Warner honours were shared. Due respect was given to balls that deserved it – most of them. The left-hander’s bat was used conservatively rather than spectacularly. Only once was the rope reached, with a careful steer through an empty cordon, and once the edge was beaten from a gorgeous delivery too good to hit.

Warner has the range to play just about every role. He is the Leonardo DiCaprio of this side rather than Bryan Brown.

Following that double breakthrough it was round three between the pair that would matter most. Operating with a stacked offside field, Anderson immediately dug into the channel. Warner defended five times in six before leaving the slowest and widest of the set. He was not seduced. Back to your corners.

Winding up to go again Warner held his nerve to leave on length, then the patience to push to point and turn to midwicket, rather than cutting and pulling as he might on an opening day. That made 12 engrossing dot balls.

Next Anderson went wider and shorter so Warner raised his arms high in denial. A complete contrast to his first innings of the year, where Pakistan felt the full brunt of his horizontal bat each time they did the same.

Anderson would have rightly fumed when Warner was not on strike to start the fourth over of his stint after Tom Curran conceded a single at the other end. The chance came with one ball to go, so he bent his back and went shorter. At last his opponent was not in complete control, one hand off the bat as he awkwardly parried it behind square. With that single, it was over.

All told, CricViz tracked Warner playing only one attacking shot in 43 balls from Anderson on the day, none of those coming in the post-lunch workout. His discipline was immense, with the five widest of the 19 balls offered to him all left alone.

It is nothing new now that Warner is able to shift down the gears so markedly when the situation demands. In his most recent Test before this Ashes, at Chittagong, he made his slowest Test century, from 209 balls. Before then that mark was 154 balls. On the way to three figures then, he found the boundary only four times – a direct response to Bangladesh’s attempt to bore him out by stationing four sweepers out.

By the time play was abandoned on Friday, the 40 runs Warner accumulated took 140 balls – a strike rate of 28.5. Of 130 innings he has played in Tests, only 15 have lasted longer. It is his slowest innings by this measure for any occasion where he has faced 60 or more deliveries. All up, he batted through 12 maidens. Never before Friday in any innings had he seen off more than five.

“You don’t see that very often from The Bull,” Darren Lehmann said. Perhaps not but the point is he has the range to play just about every role there is, 70 Tests into his career. He is the Leonardo DiCaprio of this side rather than Bryan Brown.

The best bit is what this suggests of a growing maturity within this team when needing to seek a shared result. It is easy to imagine them not long ago taking on the England attack with a view to trying to set up a win even from 164 behind. See the way they crazily attempted to chase down the 539 South Africa set for them in Perth last year.

Yes, this series is over, and whether Australia draw or lose will not change the fate of the cricket world as we know it. But if Australia need to dig deep in South Africa come March, they will not need to look far for a standard bearer of how to do it right. Their vice-captain.