Australia vs South Africa, Tests, 2022-23: David Warner scores double hundred in his 100th Test. David Warner completes 8000 runs in Test cricket.
As the extra bounce of the ball squaring up David Warner and finding the edge of his bat, flew past a diving Theunis de Bruyn at slip to slowly going over the boundary cushion, Warner got down on his knees before pumping his fists in delight. He removed the helmet and soaked in loud applause from all corners of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
Somehow, he managed to lift himself before calling for medical attention as he developed cramps after batting for 254 balls in the 36-degree heat of the ‘G’.
A feisty & aggressive character who loves a scrap
Going around the world, there are not many players who love to be in the heat of the moment especially in the longest format of the game which requires tremendous reserves of concentration, but Australia’s dynamic left-handed opener, David Warner always wants to be in the game with his feisty and aggressive character.
On the eve of Christmas 2022, Warner said that he was in a good headspace, smelling something special around the corner. Without a doubt, the pressure was on him; afterall, he didn’t make a Test century for three years and it was burning him from the inside and when he got back-to-back scores of 94 and 95 during the last Ashes, the look on his face was telling a story.
It went down further; he hadn’t scored a Test half-century in ten innings since April 1, 2022, and Warner very professionally admitted that the leadership ban from Cricket Australia (CA) took a toll on him. His relationship with his cricket board probably made him little rigid from inside and his preparation for the Perth Test against West Indies where he went for batting practice in sunglasses was nothing short of a bizarre instance.
The very next day, he chopped on to his stumps before being dismissed in an unlucky way on couple of instances against the Caribbean side; in a series where most of the Australian batters scored with freedom, Warner looked to be searching for both the ball and runs rather than letting it come.
With South Africa coming to Australia for a three-match Test series for the first time since that ‘sandpaper saga’ in 2018 at the Newlands in Cape Town, Warner found it the best platform to make a statement, and the best players always make a thumping comeback when their backs remain against the wall.
The start of the Protea series in Brisbane wasn’t what Warner perhaps imagined; in both the innings, Kagiso Rabada with couple of brutal deliveries sent him back but that wasn’t what was surprising. Those two deliveries could easily dismiss any batter in this current world but the way Warner took off his eyes, it looked different from the Warner of the old age.
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Return with a double century in the 100th Test on Boxing Day
It can’t be a better occasion than the Boxing Day Test to celebrate the 100th Test match of one’s cricketing career, and it was indeed a special moment for David Warner, featuring in his 100th Test match. Even though, the star Australia batter has been part of T20 leagues all over the world for a number of years, he has hardly missed the purest form of the game and the way he has maintained his fitness has been really impressive.
After bundling out South Africa cheaply, Warner spent a tough evening session at the end of the first day, but he was aggressive from the very first ball. The sharpness in playing all the shots along with his compact bat swing was taking the fans back on the memory lanes.
“When you batted with Warner, the opposition wasn’t actually concerned with what you are doing,” Chris Roger who has partnered Warner at the opening slot revealed to ESPNCricinfo.
Rabada bounced Warner who rather than trying to defend or leave that delivery, went after it to send it to the boundary rope; Rabada pitched it up as Warner drove him through covers. There wasn’t the sense of searching for the ball like he was doing from Perth to Brisbane; all of his shots were controlled and timed beautifully.
The high standard physical fitness meant that he could run those singles and doubles even in the torrid heat of 36-degrees in Melbourne. He was getting near the century but just after the lunch break, he came against the hostile pace of Anrich Nortje who even under that dry heat, was bowling with an average speed of 148.5 kmph.
There was an over bowled by Nortje where all the six deliveries were bowled over the 150 kmph mark, Warner did everything to save himself for better times ahead. He took a few blows on his body and even after being pinged on his index finger, he pushed for a double which showed that he wanted to be in the contest.
“That was the fastest spell I have ever faced in my Test career, and just to keep coming in this heat, ball after ball, it was awesome stuff from him,” Warner expressed after his innings on that brief spell of Nortje.
After surviving that fiery spell, with a pull to the fine leg, Warner jumped in his trademark way to celebrate his 25th Test century. He raised his bat to acknowledge the MCG crowd before pointing his blade towards the press box. From that point, he never looked back and went after the bowlers in the mode of One Day International (ODI) cricket.
After reaching 200*, he left the field early with cramps and when he came back on the third day, he was dismissed on the very first ball as the entertainment of 16 boundaries and 2 sixes to reach 200 runs in 255 balls came to an end.
Warner joins Root to score double century in 100th Test
David Warner with his double century in his 100th Test, joins an elite list of players - Colin Cowdrey, Javed Miandad, Gordon Greenidge, Alec Stewart, Inzamam ul Haq, Ricky Ponting, Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla and Joe Root. He is also now only the second ever player after Joe Root to score a double century in his 100th Test.
The left-hander becomes the first cricketer to score at least three centuries in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. He is also the 5th Test opener to score 25 centuries. Warner who now has 8122 Test runs in 183 innings has gone past Mark Waugh (8029) to become the seventh highest run-scorer for Australia in red ball cricket.
“When your back is against the wall, you can only look to move forward, that’s how I’ve always been,” Warner puts this century right at the top of the list. “It was emotional, it was hard out there, it was draining.”
Playing 100 Tests has always has been a special feat; there are not many cricketers who after playing that many T20 leagues find enough energy and motivation to give a few yards to red ball cricket. The way he smashed Pakistan, scoring 113 runs in just 95 balls in Sydney during the 2016-17 series against a bowling attack consisting the likes of Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Yasir Shah, was really eye-catching. And that’s the reflection of how he wants to play this format of the game.
To do all this in an aggressive manner offers extra enthusiasm for the fans to witness the likes of David Warner in full flow. Everyone has a bad patch but the way they turn up in every downfall is what slots them among the greats of the game; David Warner is indeed one of the greatest Test players of the current age.
Australia will now play the third Test of the three-match series between January 4-8 at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in Sydney.