If there was a prize for the best cricket comeback, David Warner would win it. His story from exiled cricketer to a run-machine is truly remarkable.
Warner was banned for a year in March 2018 (due to a ball-tampering incident) but earned his way back into the Australian side. He has been in devastating form since his return and has amassed 516 runs at the World Cup 2019.
But the year in the wilderness was tough for Warner. He was forced to do a lot of soul-searching. For a while he was moved to the cricket background. Out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes.
Warner possibly used this lonely period to introspect. The outspoken Australian was infamous for his sudden outbursts before lightning struck him in South Africa. He grabbed the headlines for the wrong reasons but the ban forced him to re-evaluate. Warner mellowed and was stronger, both as a person and a cricket player, when the ban ended and his performances in England and Wales prove this point emphatically.
Warner’s biggest test after coming back to professional cricket was the Indian Premier League in April, 2019 The combative batsman passed it with flying colors, hitting 692 runs for the Sunrisers Hyderabad, winning the orange cap. These feats propelled him into Australia’s World Cup squad. Warner had come a full circle since his ban, from ignominy to ecstasy.
Warner and Labuschagne each recorded hundreds in the first Test, when Australia won by an innings and five runs, and the two continued their fine form with an unbeaten second-wicket stand of 294 in Adelaide on Friday.
That partnership – already the highest in day-night Tests – meant Australia reached stumps at 302-1 as Warner ended the day unbeaten on 166 while Labuschagne was not out on 126.
Warner and his batting partner Marnus Labuschagne had made their intentions clear at the start of the day by taking the aggressive route against Yasir Shah. The legspinner came under severe punishment as the duo unleashed a string of shots – lofts, cuts and pulls. With runs coming thick and fast, Pakistan looked down and out, and were in search of a spark of inspiration. At that stage, Shaheen Afridi provided the breakthrough by castling Labuschagne with the in-seamer, bringing to an end the massive stand of 361. Just that Steven Smith joined hands with Warner to share another sizeable partnership.
Warner soon reached his double ton and continued to flay Pakistan’s clueless attack and smashed 92 runs in a session and went on to score his first ever triple hundred.
Years keep passing by, and David Warner just keeps getting better and better. His reputation as a fearless striker of the ball and as a swashbuckling opener has remained the same over the years. He has hardly failed to produce a kickstart to the Australian innings which has given the command to the middle order to topple the opposition.
Warner’s trademark leaping celebration was back after the opener reached the triple ton – off 388 balls, gesturing animatedly to the Australian dressing room and kissing his helmet before looking to the heavens.
David Warner, with an unbeaten 300 – his highest Test score, took Pakistan’s attack to the cleaners as Australia bestrode the opposition in the first session of Day 2 of the pink-ball Test in Adelaide.
His transformation as a person is equally impressive. He was once brash and aggressive, but is now more docile.
He seems to be reaping the rewards from a period of contemplation engendered by his forced hiatus from the game and is clearly a new-and-improved version of his old self.