When David Warner walked out to bat on Boxing Day in the third session in front of a raucous Melbourne Crowd, he knew he had no option but to deliver.
Certainly because of his dwindling form — in 10 preceding Tests, he’d averaged 20.61 while going past fifty just twice in 19 attempts — but more so due to what he claimed in the lead-up to the Test.
Warner, in the press-conference prior to the Boxing Day Test (which was set to be his 100th), said that, despite insufficient returns, he was batting well and feeling well, and was not out of form; only out of runs. He said that he feels that a big score is not far away and, most importantly, promised that the world will witness the older, more aggressive version of Warner in the second Test.
Warner stayed true to his words. Not only did he break a three-year drought by getting to the three figure mark, he also batted like the ‘old’ him, notching up 200 runs at a strike rate of 78.43.
Like a true champion, the 36-year-old walked the talk, but speaking on Channel seven, the opener admitted that he felt pressure leading up to his innings.
“I don’t generally feel the pressure. I don’t get nervous, but, walking out here and telling my friends, ‘I’m going out to play the way I want to, looking to score and have intent’, (there was some pressure, yes),” Warner told Channel Seven.
“The lead-up, the build-up, you know, the articles … all of it, the emotional toll … but at the end of the day to come out here and just back myself and look to score and have that intent, which was probably missing from the last 12 months … to deliver that on Boxing Day, which is the pinnacle as a kid, it’s what you want to (play in and deliver).”
So, how was it to go out there and back up what he said?
“To go out and execute that emphatically was awesome.”
According to Warner, the fact that he accomplished the same in front of his friends and family made it a ‘magical moment’.
“When your back is up against the wall you can only look to move forward, that’s how I’ve always been. It was emotional. It was hard out there. It was draining.
“It was a magical moment and I’m so proud of the win in front of my family and friends. They made the effort to come down and celebrate this 100th Test with me.
“Just to see everyone up in the box just enjoy that success with me, it means a lot and as I said, it’s their journey as well as mine and I love what I do. I love it.”
Without a question the MCG wicket in this year’s Boxing Day Test is one of the more flatter wickets Warner has batted in, at home, in recent times, but the test he was put through by the South African bowlers, Anrich Nortje in particular, made it a knock of the highest quality.
In an extraordinary burst on the morning of Day 2, Nortje clocked over 150 kph ball after ball and tested Warner with rockets as fast as 155 kph. It wasn’t easy, but the southpaw managed to fend off the threat.
Warner was ultimately dismissed by Nortje on Day 3, but he described the right-armer’s spell on Day 2 as the fastest he’s encountered in his 14-year-long international career.
“It was the fastest spell I have ever faced in my Test career,” Warner said.
“That was extraordinary, and in this heat, to keep coming in ball after ball, delivering 150-plus ...,” he said.
“My handle went backwards. But, it was awesome stuff from him, but, at the end of the day for us as batsmen, we’ve got to try and negate that.
“You know what’s coming at you. The hardest thing is try and get in a position to either pull it or get out of the way. And as you saw, I got littered, and I can’t remember the last time I got littered in a game.”