David Warner has delivered a resounding response to his critics with a commanding century against Pakistan at Perth’s Optus Stadium. Warner’s robust 164 off 211 balls, studded with 16 fours and four sixes, propelled Australia to a formidable 5-346 at stumps on day one of the opening Test series.
Warner’s explosive performance, which saw him reach his 26th Test ton in just 125 balls, not only silenced his doubters but also catapulted him past cricketing greats Matthew Hayden and Michael Clarke to become the fifth-highest run-scorer in Australia’s Test history.
His “shush” celebration post-century was a clear message to all those who have questioned his place in the team following a period of lean scores since January 2020.
Despite announcing his impending retirement at the end of the current three-test series, Warner has shown that his form is far from declining. His innings was especially poignant given recent public debates over his selection, sparked in part by former Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson’s column questioning Warner’s right to a “hero’s farewell.”
Warner’s commanding knock and subsequent celebration were seen as a rebuke to the criticism, particularly from Johnson, who highlighted Warner’s involvement in the 2018 Sandpapergate scandal and his recent form.
Yet, Warner, unfazed by the external noise, stated,
“Mitch is entitled to his opinion, he’s a former player… I’m allowed to celebrate how I want.”
Supporting Warner in the batting lineup, Usman Khawaja and Travis Head both contributed to the scoreboard but failed to convert their starts into bigger scores. Mitch Marsh and Alex Carey, the latter making a steady 14 not out, will resume batting on day two.
Khawaja also made headlines this week for his stance on the humanitarian crisis in Palestine, expressing his views on his cricket shoes. Although ICC rules prevented him from wearing the inscribed shoes during the Test, Khawaja, who played wearing a black armband, provided a heartfelt explanation of his position.
Despite being dropped at 104 and eventually dismissed for 164, Warner’s formidable innings have all but assured his selection for the remainder of the series, including the Boxing Day Test and his final bow at the SCG.
Reflecting on a tumultuous 2022 and the improvement in his 2023 form, Warner attributed his success to a reduction in off-field stress. The year 2022 was marred by controversy over his leadership ban following the ‘Sandpapergate’ incident. Warner withdrew his application to lift the ban, accusing the review panel of seeking to publicly lynch him.
Warner’s recent upturn in form has seen him average 46.25 across ODIs and raise his Test average to 31.1 with his performance in Perth. The veteran opener emphasized that he feels no additional pressure and has no points left to prove, asserting, “If they want to keep continuing to pick me, I ain’t leaving.”
As the cricket world awaits the continuation of Warner’s farewell series, his latest innings stand as a testament to his enduring talent and resilience in the face of adversity.
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