David Warner has credited a reduction in stress behind his recent upturn in form, and declared he “ain’t leaving” his farewell Test tour early.
Warner eased the selection pressure on himself by blasting 164 off 211 balls to help guide Australia to 5-346 against Pakistan after one day of action in Perth on Thursday.
The 37-year-old will retire at the end of the three-Test series, and his huge knock in Perth means he’s almost certain to be selected for both the Boxing Day Test and his grand finale at the SCG.
While Warner hasn’t set the world on fire in 2023, it’s been an improvement on his 2022 campaign.
Warner has averaged an impressive 46.25 across 20 ODIs this year, and his Test average in 2023 is now up to 31.1 following his heroics in Perth.
The veteran opener said his stressful 2022 – when he failed to get his lifetime leadership ban overturned for his role in the ‘Sandpapergate’ scandal – played a role in his form struggles that year.
Warner eventually withdrew the application to remove the leadership ban, accusing the independent panel conducting the review of wanting to publicly lynch him.
“We had a lot of stuff with CA last year and the captaincy stuff and I was going through a pretty hard time off the field from all that and dealing with it,” Warner said.
“This year, we’ve had a great successful 12 months as a team.
“I think where I am in my part of my career, it’s been great. I’ve not really had much to worry about.
“People make comments but you get on with it and you know you’ve got to go out there and score runs, and today I did that.”
Warner made a shushing motion in the direction of the Optus Stadium media area upon reaching triple figures on Thursday.
The emotional celebration was on the back of being heavily criticised by former Australian paceman Mitchell Johnson, who said Warner didn’t deserve to have a hero’s farewell.
Warner didn’t let the external criticism distract him.
“If people are out to get you or make a headline from your name, then so be it,” Warner said.
“I can’t worry about that. I’ve got to worry about what I’ve got to do for the team – keep scoring runs and putting the team in a great position.
“I don’t feel any extra pressure, I don’t feel any other points I have to prove.”
Even if Warner fails in his next three innings, it seems sure he will be picked for a fairytale goodbye in Sydney.
But Warner isn’t counting on it just yet.
“You’ve still got to score runs,” he said.
“It’s up to the selectors. If they want to keep continuing to pick me, I ain’t leaving.”