David Warner has revealed that Australia captain Tim Paine had extended a predetermined cut-off time for the innings to allow the opener to pass the 334-run record jointly held by Donald Bradman and Mark Taylor as the nation’s second highest Test score.
The agreed time to end Australia’s domineering innings against Pakistan was 5.40pm Adelaide time, at which point Warner had equalled but not passed 334. However, Paine sent out the message that Warner had time to go to 335 before he closed the innings, allowing the 33-year-old opener to write a fresh page of Australian cricket history a little more than 18 months after the Newlands scandal that had threatened to leave his name more associated with ball tampering than batting. Paine called Warner in immediately after the final single at about 5.45pm.
There was never any question in Warner’s mind – or that of others – about batting long enough to challenge Brian Lara’s world record 400* against England, or Matthew Hayden’s 380 against Zimbabwe. This was due to a grim weather forecast, with the time gained on the second evening allowing the Australians to rip out six Pakistan wickets before stumps, leaving only 14 more to get for a series sweep.
“I don’t think so at all. We really looked at the weather that’s around tomorrow, we wanted to give ourselves a lot of time,” Warner explained after the day’s play. “If we could have the amount of overs we got tonight and try to get a couple of wickets, we’ve managed to get six wickets down, if there is a bit of rain about tomorrow, the bowlers get a good rest, only have to come out and try to get 14 wickets in the last two days, so it wasn’t a thing in our mind to go out there and try to get that record or anything.
“The first person I asked was [Steven] Smithy when I was out there batting. I said how many overs do you reckon we’ll have at them tonight, and it was literally that perfect amount. Then I came in, I think at that [tea] break, and I said ‘when are we declaring’, and they said ‘5.40pm’ and I said ‘ok’. I kept on asking when we were out there, we got to five, then ten past five, and I was making sure that was still the message and it was. Until I think that last over before, it just ticked over [5.40pm] and Painey wanted me to try and get past that 334 mark.”
Reflecting on the innings, Warner said he had wanted to “make a statement” in the wake of his poor Ashes tour. “It is obviously a massive achievement. But for me, it is always about coming out here and trying to make a statement,” he told Fox Cricket. “Through my poor form in England, but to come back to Australia and put back-to-back performances on the board and have that consistency back here and start the summer well for our team, that is what I was more proud of myself for.
It is obviously a massive achievement. But for me, it is always about coming out here and trying to make a statement
“Yeah 100% I was aware of it [the history]. You grow up knowing what those milestones are. Forever you talk about Donald Bradman. I remember Michael Clarke at the SCG declared on 329 not out. They’re things that you look at the history books and say, ‘how did they get there – that’s a long time in the middle’. I managed to go out there and do that but it takes an incredible amount of patience which I surprised myself.”
Looking back on a grim Ashes series, Warner said that he had learned a valuable lesson about backing his own game rather than listening to too many voices, however well-meaning, about how he should play against the moving ball. “You’re going to have people who doubt you, and through that whole series I said ‘I wasn’t out of form, I was out of runs’,” he said. “If I had my time again I would’ve not changed my guard, I wouldn’t have listened to some external noises, I would’ve backed myself more and bat where I have been here outside off, leaving the ball patiently, getting my bat and pad closer together and under my nose, and I am capable of that.
“I just think in England you can get caught up in playing too much in front [of the body], especially with the way I play, so I’ve had to regroup coming back from England, I’ve hit 3500-4000 balls leading into Brisbane and here as well I batted for a good two hours per session as well.
“It’s not by chance that I’ve actually tightened all that up, I’ve actually been working really hard on it in the nets, it’s one of those things where I’m a very confident person, whether I scored these runs or didn’t score these runs, I still hold my head up high and have that little smirk on my face that I always have.”
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
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