Warrior Warner silences doubters

The 36-year-old left-hander also joined England's Joe Root in a two-man club of players to score a double in their 100th Test

By Reuters

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Australian batsman David Warner celebrates scoring his century. -- AFP
Australian batsman David Warner celebrates scoring his century. -- AFP

Published: Tue 27 Dec 2022, 5:55 PM

Last updated: Tue 27 Dec 2022, 5:56 PM

Short of runs and under pressure, David Warner entered the Boxing Day Test against South Africa warning the doubters not to underestimate the fight of a "housing commission boy" with back against the wall.

On Tuesday, on day two of his 100th Test, the veteran Australia opener retired on 200 in cramped-up exhaustion after tormenting the Proteas in a Melbourne Cricket Ground furnace, quashing all debate about his place in the side.

On the way to his third double-century in 254 balls, Warner posted his 25th hundred, and first in nearly three years, while becoming Australia's eighth player to notch 8,000 runs in Tests.

The 36-year-old left-hander also joined England's Joe Root in a two-man club of players to score a double in their 100th Test.

Though watchful in the nineties, Warner sealed his first hundred on Tuesday with typical aggression, pulling South Africa spearhead Kagiso Rabada to the fine leg fence to draw the crowd to their feet.

Five years on from a century against India in his 100th ODI, Warner ripped off his helmet and made his trademark leap into the steaming Melbourne air.

He has rarely held back after reaching a ton but there was added gusto in his celebrations as he blew kisses off his bat to family and fans around the ground.

Hours later, struggling in 37 degrees Celsius (99F) heat, Warner hit four off Lungi Ngidi to reach his second hundred.

After slumping to his knees and pumping his arms in the air, he got to his feet for another leap but the effort left him leaning on his bat on shaky legs.

It had hitherto been a forgettable home summer with the bat, clouded by off-field drama over his permanent leadership ban four years after the Newlands ball-tampering scandal.

Facing South Africa for the first Test series since 'Sandpaper-gate', Warner managed only three runs in the Brisbane opener, raising questions about his future in Test whites.

All that was swept aside as he battled through cramps and a bruised hand from an Anrich Nortje ball to savour one of his finest days in cricket.

Not unlike his career, it was an innings of endurance and daring with one moment of poor judgement. Trying to poach a run from an overthrow before lunch he ran out batting partner Marnus Labuschagne for 14.

But that was soon forgotten as he racked up 16 fours and smashed spinner Keshav Maharaj for two sixes before limping off with Australia 329 for three.

Australia were 386 for three at stumps, with a big lead of 197 runs in reply to South Africa's first-innings 189.

The son of working class parents raised in government housing in Sydney, Warner now wants for little as a global star, barring another chance to win the Ashes in England next year.

Team mate Steve Smith, who scored 85 in a 239-run partnership with Warner on day two, said the opener might have more to give to Australian cricket.

"He's obviously doing pretty well," Smith told reporters.

"Fingers crossed he can keep playing well and he can play for as long as he likes."

Warner's wife and staunchest defender Candice wept happy tears in the crowd but was hardly surprised by his return to form.

"You’d think by now writing David off is probably the wrong thing to do," she said. "He thrives on that."

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