Warner breaks Bradman, Azhar Ali records in his unbeaten 335
David Warner walked off the Adelaide Oval with his bat held aloft in one hand and his helmet in the other, forming the shape of a big V for victory.
He’d already taken a theatrical bow after reaching a triple-century for the first time, and had leaped in his customary celebration of every 100.
Former test captain Mark Taylor and tens of thousands of fans stood and applauded his unbeaten 335 against Pakistan in the second test on Saturday.
Warner, who missed the last southern summer while serving a 12-month ban and entered the series against Pakistan after a poor Ashes return in England, beat the great Donald Bradman’s record of 299 — set against South Africa in 1931-32 — for the highest test score at the Adelaide Oval.
The 33-year-old left-hander opener is putting runs on the board, physically and metaphorically, in his rehabilitation with the Australian public.
Warner overhauled Bradman’s highest test score of 334 with a single before his captain Tim Paine declared Australia’s first innings at 589-3 on Saturday evening to give the bowlers a chance to get wickets before the main interval on day two of the match. It worked in favor of the team, with Australia’s pacemen having Pakistan reeling at 96-6 at stumps on day two.
There was a strategic time limit for the declaration, Warner knew, so he wasn’t upset at all at not getting the chance to take on Brian Lara’s world record of 400 not out.
Regardless, Warner’s score is the 10th-highest in test cricket and second only to Matt Hayden, who scored 380 against Zimbabwe in 2003, among Australian batsmen.
That was a position previously shared by Bradman and Taylor, who declared when he was on 334 against Pakistan at Peshawar in 1998.
Taylor was in a broadcasting box on Saturday when Warner surpassed his record. He applauded Warner, saying he had no problem with the Aussie opener taking a chance to surpass 334 runs. Bradman died in 2001 but his legacy lives on at his long-time home ground.
Warner knew the key numbers, “100 percent I was aware of it,” he said. “You grow up knowing what those milestones are.
“You look at the history books and say, ‘How did they get there?’ It’s a long time in the middle. It takes a lot of patience, which I surprised myself.”
Warner walked through a guard of honor his teammates formed on the boundary as he went back to the dressing rooms for a well-deserved break.
Warner’s innings lasted 418 balls and contained 39 fours and one six — which he whacked on 302 to surpass Pakistan skipper’ Azhar Ali’s record for the biggest innings in a day-night test.
“Around 280. I wasn’t teary, but I was thinking ‘this could actually happen,’” Warner said in an interview on Fox Sports.
When he reached 300, the TV cameras panned onto his wife, Candice, wiping away tears from behind her sunglasses. It’s been an emotional ride for Warner, his wife and their three daughters.
Shane Warne, who endured plenty of attention on and off the field in his record-setting career, told a national TV audience about the toll that being an international cricket star can have on a family.
Warner was widely perceived as the architect of a clumsy plan to tamper with the match ball in a test match in Cape Town against South Africa in March of last year. The episode made Warner one of the biggest outcasts in Australian sport. His fellow opener Cameron Bancroft was caught by TV cameras rubbing the surface of the ball with sandpaper, and got a nine-month ban. Steve Smith was banned for 12 months for not doing enough to foil the tampering plot.
All three accepted their bans, by far the harshest ever imposed in cricket for such an infraction, and each faced a grilling at news conferences on their returns to Australia.
Warner returned in good one-day form at the Cricket World Cup in England, where he and Smith were constantly booed by the crowds until Australia lost in the semifinals.
But he only scored 95 runs in 10 innings in the subsequent Ashes series in August and September — 61 and 11 were his only scores in double-digits — casting doubt over his status as Australia’s premier opener.
He has answered any doubters with a rapid return to form in home conditions. He scored 100 not out, 60 not out, 57 not out, 2 not out, 20 and 48 not out in six Twenty20 internationals.
Then he opened the series against Pakistan with 154 in Australia’s victory by an innings and five runs at the Gabba.
“I’ve prided myself on contributing,” to Australia’s cause, said Warner, who now has 23 centuries in 81 tests. “Games are so close these days, you sort of lose what’s just happened. You don’t really get much time to celebrate because the schedule is so tight.
“When I’ve retired, having a beer with my mates, I’ll reflect on it then.”
Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts acknowledged in a radio interview before play on Saturday that there’d be people who can’t forgive Warner for bringing the national team into disrepute.
“But,” he told SEN radio, "hopefully there is a level of human respect for what he is doing and what is trying to contribute to his team and to the game."
Roberts said he understood there were people who told him Warner “is not their cup of tea.”
"Dave is a street fighter," Roberts said. “And we get the best of that and, at times, you get the shadow side of that because like the rest of us he is human.
"What we're seeing is a fresh David Warner after his time out ... the break has done him the world of good and we're seeing David Warner at his best."