David Warner’s name has been ingrained in Australian cricket for the wrong reasons of late, but on Saturday it became ingrained for another reason, surpassing Don Bradman and Mark Taylor’s 334 and becoming part of Australian cricketing folklore.
Warner enters the record books with the second highest Test score by an Australian, and his 335 is the highest score at the Adelaide Oval.
While Warner didn’t have the opportunity to push forward towards Matthew Hayden’s 380 or Brian Lara’s 400, Tim Paine’s team-first mentality took priority, and as a result Australia are well in control of the Test match. This endorsed Warner’s sportsmanship – a quality that many people forgot existed.
It hasn’t just been the volume of runs he scored – it is also the way he brutalised the Pakistani attack. His 335 came off 418 balls at a strike rate over 80, which include 39 fours and a six.
Warner’s made a selfless act by accepting the team’s declaration at 5.40pm on 335 and then returning straight onto the ground to field after his marathon innings.
No one would have blamed Warner if he stayed in the change rooms until after tea, given his 127 overs at the crease. Warner was rewarded for his resilience by being involved in the first wicket of the Pakistan innings, catching Inam-ul-Haq for two off the bowling of Mitchell Starc.
While for some there is nothing he can do to gain forgiveness for his role in the Cape Town Test sandpaper saga, he’s doing everything he can to repay Australian cricket and Warner has so far delivered in the first two Tests of the Australian summer. His 335 not out follows his 154 in the first Test in Brisbane.
The reason I love sport is it gives people second chances and the greats of their sport always take that chance and seek redemption.
Tiger Woods winning the US Masters earlier this year, Shane Warne taking 40 wickets in the 2005 Ashes, Steve Smith scorning runs when no one else could during the Ashes – sport is littered with these examples and Warner joins that list and that’s why I consider him a great of the game.
To come back from where he was after Cape Town as the villain of Australian cricket, then a batsman who struggled with the bat in the Ashes only passing 50 once and only managing 95 runs at an average below ten, he returned to Australia determined to score runs.
Only a great of the game could come back from that much adversity. A good player might try to come back from that, but they would not be able to achieve what Warner has.
While his record outside of Australia in Test cricket doesn’t reflect my view that he is a great of the game, his fighting spirit does, and he will now use that spirit to improve overseas.
The other reason Warner is a great of the game is he’s one of only a handful of players to continually succeed in all three forms of the game.
He is only the third Australian to score a century in all three formats at international level, alongside Shane Watson and Glenn Maxwell, as well as only 15 players in the world to complete that milestone.
He’s scored 23 Test hundreds and nearly 7000 Test runs and is only 49 runs behind Don Bradman’s 6996 Test runs, a feat that Steve Smith achieved on the same day Warner passed 334.
Warner has also dominated with the white ball, with nearly 5000 ODI runs at 45.77, which includes 17 hundreds and 20 fifties, incorporating three hundreds and 647 runs at the Cricket World Cup in England earlier this year.
Warner’s record in T20 cricket stacks up just as well as the other formats with 2079 runs at an average of 30.
Warner is a great of the game. Yes, he has made mistakes and I am not saying all is forgiven for his role in the Cape Town Test, however he is doing everything he can to redeem himself.
He’s already shown he’s a good player, but he is now showing us why he is a great player by coming back from Cape Town, and runs will come the next time he players overseas.