Former Australian captain Mark Taylor has hit back at suggestions that David Warner needed to score a drought-breaking century to cement his spot on upcoming tours of India and England.
Warner faced immense pressure coming into his 100th career Test match and responded in style, scoring his first century in 1089 days before retiring hurt on 200 not out late on day two against South Africa.
The courageous knock comes amid mass speculation surrounding the 36-year-old’s future in Australia’s Test side.
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Warner averages just 32.78 in 44 away Tests, well below his average of 59.63 at home, prompting many to believe he’d announce his retirement prior to the tough tours of India and England next year.
However, following Warner’s breakthrough century, Taylor suggests that the veteran left-hander was still better than most of the candidates attempting to take his spot in Australia’s Test side.
“I thought that (Warner should be picked for India and England) even before this innings,” he told Wide World of Sports.
“You’ve got to make sure that you’ve got someone who is a better player (than Warner), and I’m not sure they’ve got someone at this stage.
“David’s form has been waning, but is (Marcus) Harris or (Matthew) Renshaw going to better option than David Warner? I think David’s shown today that not at the moment.
“The question for David now is with India coming up and then the Ashes, what does he actually want to do? He’s got the ball right back in his court now, which is where you want it at the end of your career.
“How far does he want to keep going? He’s already mentioned that this is probably going to be his last full year of international cricket.”
Taylor’s sentiments were echoed by Warner’s teammate Steve Smith, who shared a 239-run partnership for the third wicket with the opener.
“He’s obviously doing pretty well and played exceptionally well today,” he said.
“He’s fit and I don’t see any reason why he can’t continue playing. He was certainly seeing the ball well today, so fingers crossed he can keep playing well.
“He can play for as long as he likes.”
Taylor described Warner’s knock as a “real pugnacious, tough” innings, and praised the opener for his attacking intent when coming out to bat late on day one.
Warner breaks three-year century drought
“That was pivotal last night the way he came out,” he said.
“I think that’s the way David’s always been, when he gets in a corner, he comes out swinging.
“In recent games, he probably hasn’t been as aggressive as he normally is, and he mentioned that in the presser leading into this Test.
“He wanted to get back to the old David Warner, when someone attacks me, I’ll attack them, and that’s what he did and did really well.”
The signs were also evident to Smith when Warner ended day one unbeaten on 32.
“Most of us are that way. If we’re looking to score, we usually defend and leave pretty well,” he said.
“I think when you’re being a bit negative and trying to defend, you can actually get yourself in more trouble and you’re not going to score the runs as well.
“It’s the objective of our game as batters to score runs and for him (Warner) if he’s being positive and his feet are moving sharply, that’s when he beats his best.
“He looked pretty good last night. The energy he had at the crease was on from ball one which, having played with Davey for a long time, I could see those things and it didn’t surprise me that he was 30-odd not out at the close and was going to make a big one from what I saw last night.”
Despite finishing day two unbeaten on 200, Warner did not have it all his own way, having to contend with a fearsome display of fast bowling from South Africa’s Anrich Nortje in the middle session.
Exhausted Warner retires hurt
The right-arm quick consistently clocked over 150 km/h, sending a number of balls whizzing past Warner’s helmet as the Aussie opener ducked and weaved, and Taylor credited him for sticking tough throughout that period.
“He went up and down the gears really well,” he said.
“He got through those tough periods where he was able to keep his wicket in check, and then when he thought he could attack, he did it in typical Warner fashion.
“He got into the 90s and Nortje came back on and he was prepared to actually go down the gears and take his time and get through that really tough period. Then when he got to the 100 he really started attacking, so it was a brilliant innings.”
Despite retiring hurt due to cramping and exhaustion, Warner is expected to return to the crease on day three when Australia loses its next wicket.
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