David Warner has signed off from Test cricket by offering Australia a reminder of how much he’ll be missed, scoring a powerful half-century in an eight-wicket win over Pakistan.
Warner’s career went full circle at the SCG on Saturday, showing the same kind of brazen batting that made him famous 15 years ago when he burst onto the international scene.
In a fitting farewell to his 112-Test career, Warner hit 57 from 75 balls before being trapped lbw by Sajid Khan with Australia 11 runs short of their target of 130.
The opener left to a standing ovation, before Australia sealed a 3-0 clean sweep of the tourists in the next over.
“It’s pretty much a dream come true,” Warner said.
“You win 3-0 and cap off what has been a great 18 months for the team.”
Pat Cummins described Warner as “box office”, while the man himself joked he was trying to emulate his famous 2009 Twenty20 debut against South Africa.
But there was a method to the madness.
With a small target on the board, and after fellow opener Usman Khawaja was trapped lbw for a duck on a spinning pitch, Warner made a point to break the back of Pakistan.
He twice reverse-swept Sajid to the boundary in a bid to counteract the rough outside off stump, and even walked at quick Mir Hamza on the third ball he faced.
There were bludgeoning cover drives and even an attempted reverse-scoop.
The 37-year-old sprinted between the wickets and took on the field with the kind of energy international players half his age would struggle to maintain.
And he brought out the best in others, combining with Marnus Labuschagne (62no) for their seventh century partnership.
There was also some luck.
Warner almost chopped on when on 16, saw a tough chance grassed on 25 and survived an lbw call on 53.
But as is always the case with Warner, when the ball came out of the middle of the bat it was imposing for the opposition.
This had all the hallmarks of Warner at his best: able to take the game away from the opposition before they had realised what hit them.
“I said to Marnus … ‘I’ve got nothing to lose so I’m going to go out there and play the way that I do’,” Warner said.
“I’ve always said (with) low totals, you’ve got to come out and be very positive. That’s what I set out to do.
“I enjoyed the way that I went about it out there. I played with freedom. I was relaxed.
“I’m always calm and clear. But today was the end, so I I wanted to go out my way.”
Australia have conceded it will be near impossible to find another Warner.
The most prolific opener in the side’s history, he has scored at a faster rate than any other Australian in the top order in the past decade.
“One thing is the style he plays, and today a run-a-ball 50 on a tricky wicket,” Cummins said.
“But also in Test cricket you play in all kinds of conditions. And losing someone who has played 100 Test matches is pretty hard to fill.
“It was a good reminder of what an experienced and high-class cricketer Davey is.”
Warner’s runs came after Josh Hazlewood set up the win for Australia on Friday evening, with Pakistan bowled out for 115 on the fourth morning.
After the tourists took a 15-run first-innings lead, Hazlewood (4-16) claimed a triple-wicket maiden late on day three to crush Pakistan’s hopes.
They were able to offer brief resistance on Saturday morning, Mohammad Rizwan (28) and Aamir Jamal (18) putting on 42 for the eighth wicket.
But when Nathan Lyon (3-36) had Rizwan caught at leg slip, they folded quickly.
The win cements Australia’s newly crowned status as the world’s No.1-ranked Test team, with two matches against West Indies to come later in January.