David Warner has become just the second player to score a double century in their 100th Test match, and the first Aussie to do so in cricket history. After coming into the Boxing Day Test facing significant pressure to retain his spot, Warner finally broke through for his first Test hundred since January 2020, before eventually retiring hurt on 200.
It marks a welcome return to form for Warner, who looked aggressive from the outset of Australia's innings late on day one before continuing his charge on day two. The only blemish on his innings was his mix-up with Marnus Labuschagne which resulted in the latter being run-out for 14.
Warner erupted after pulling Kasigo Rabada for four to bring up his 25th Test hundred, having surpassed 8000 career runs earlier in his innings. It's also a welcome injection of runs after abandoning his controversial bid to have the lifetime leadership ban imposed in 2018 overturned prior to the Boxing Day Test.
His joy however, marked yet more pain for South Africa. Not only have they fallen behind on the scoreboard, but it would almost seem as though the ground itself was against the visitors, as moments later fast bowler Anrich Nortje was heavily collected by an overhead 'spider-cam' as it gathered a shot of the pitch.
Geezus Nortje very lucky to not be seriously injured. Might be time to get rid of this Camera. https://t.co/abUtXVEwY2
— Rancey (@NotAlexRance) December 27, 2022
Ouch. Spidercam hitting Nortje in the field. https://t.co/75EagUM8ba
— Scott Watkins 🌳🏃🏻♂️A219298 (@DrScottWatkins) December 27, 2022
It should have been about 3m above the playing surface then it would have been alright. Could really have injured Nortje.
— Mickey Dee (@WhiplashUnited) December 27, 2022
Fortunately for the visitors Nortje, who was arguably their best performer with the ball on day two, was able to shake off the scary looking blow. However, the angst wasn't over for the Proteas.
A short time later they looked to have secured a long-awaited breakthrough after Steve Smith was given out, having appeared to gloved one through to the keeper off Rabada. Not only did Smith's immediate review show the ball had glanced off his shoulder, the delivery was also ruled to be a no-ball.
David Warner makes long-awaited Test breakthrough
While it was all happening for the visitors, Warner was undoubtedly the man of the hour. The only other player to bring up a double century in their 100th Test was England star Joe Root against India in February, 2021.
Warner's innings was full of his trademark powerful shots but he didn't have it all his own way, suffering a blow to his hand through a speedy delivery from fiery Proteas quick Nortje. The decline in Warner's form had been so sharp he had failed to pass 50 since the third Test against Pakistan in Lahore in March.
Warner has hinted about retiring from Tests in the near future but is desperate to be part of blockbuster tours of India and England next year. Adding to Warner's recent woes ahead of this match is the fact he has been dealing with the ongoing fallout from Sandpapergate.
Warner on Saturday conceded his mental health was impacted by the process and fired another shot at CA, saying they gave him no support at the start of the summer. His wife Candice was ecstatic he had been able to silence the doubters.
"You'd think by now writing David off is probably the wrong thing to do, he thrives on that," she told Fox Cricket. "It's been an incredibly tough period and people don't take those things into consideration. It hasn't been easy but he never uses that as an excuse."
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