Playing in his 100th Test for Australia, David Warner has scored his first five-day century in three years – prompting jubilant and emotional scenes at the MCG.
The 36-year-old put the South African attack to the sword as he then passed 200 despite appearing to suffer from severe heat exhaustion and cramps, after he became just the 14th Aussie to play 100 Tests.
Wife Candice could be seen watching from the stands with the couple’s three children; with the former ironwoman appearing to choke back tears before hugging one of her daughters.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese could be seen congratulating Candice as Warner was helped off the field; retiring hurt given he could barely move and showing incredible bravery.
David Warner celebrates his first century in almost three years during his 100th Test for Australia with his customary leap
Candice Warner (pictured with husband David and their three children Ivy-Mae, Indi-Rae and Isla-Rose after last week’s Gabba Test) was defiant in her support of David after he scored a 100
An ecstatic David Warner salutes the crowd after scoring 100 against South Africa, breaking his three-year drought
His swashbuckling knock broke a drought of almost three years without a Test century and 10 innings without a 50 – quite the slump for the veteran opener with 25 hundreds and 35 half-centuries.
Despite his status as one of Australia’s greatest openers who revolutionised the way Test cricket was played at the top of the order, Warner had been under huge pressure coming into Boxing Day.
Pundits and former players quite rightly questioned whether the left-hander’s spot in the Aussie side was still warranted after averaging just 20.61 in 2022.
Candice was at her fiery best as she slammed those who criticised Warner for his poor form, indicating the off-field drama surrounding his failed attempt to overturn a leadership ban had taken a huge toll.
David and Candice Warner, pictured at the Australian Open earlier this year, are fiercely protective of each other in the media
‘It’s such a big milestone with his back against the wall, and you think writing David off by now is the wrong thing to do – he thrives on it,’ she said defiantly on Fox Cricket’s broadcast.
‘It’s been incredibly tough, and people don’t take those things into consideration (when criticising lack of runs).
‘He’s just dad to these three girls, and they said to him before the game ‘just score a 100 like Marnus (Labuschagne) does’,’ laughed Candice.
She also appeared on the Channel 7 broadcast, and looked slightly more relieved than fiery as she cradled her daughters inside the family area – but was no less scathing of those in her sights.
In particular, Candice appeared to take aim at Cricket Australia for their role in failing to get his lifetime leadership ban reversed over the infamous ‘Sandpapergate’.
David Warner (left) had his three daughters with him to sing the National anthem on Boxing Day for his 100th Test for Australia
‘Everyone saying he (Warner) is too old and should retire. To, first of all, hit the 8000 Test run is a huge milestone, then to get a Test century – hopefully now people will back off him a little bit,’ she told 7 Cricket presenter Mel McLaughlin.
‘It hasn’t been an easy summer with the bat, also behind the scenes he hasn’t really received a hell of a lot of support where it’s needed.
‘It comes down to the captaincy stuff if we’re talking about that, it’s been dragged on and it shouldn’t have.
‘This is going to mean a lot. To do it in front of everyone who means the most to him is even more special.
‘He said he was doing it for the little David Warner who grew up in the housing commission and no-one would have thought he would make it. There were so many doubters along the way,’ said Candice of his upbringing in the working-class Sydney suburb of Matraville.
David Warner kisses the Australian emblem on his helmet after reaching his century
Warner could be heard on the stump mic yelling ‘Go, go, go!’ as he willed the ball towards the rope on 96 – prompting fellow legendary opener Simon Katich to
‘What a moment for him. The MCG crowd are on their feet – they’re loving this,’ he said on the Channel 7 broadcast.
‘Look at the emotion. He kisses the bat, waves to the crowd and blows a kiss to Candice and the kids. Great moment for Davey Warner.
He’s certainly earned it. Weathered the storm against Nortje, (and) it was a rapid spell.
‘A very, very special moment for him. He spoke to Greg Blewitt yesterday about how much his family means to him and how much he relies on them for strength and support, so the emotions were flowing out of Dave Warner when that amazing milestone came up,’ said Katich.
David Warner has been outspoken about the incredible motivation his family gives him when his back is against the wall and facing criticism
Fans, pundits and former players flocked to social media to celebrate Warner’s milestone.
Radio star Ryan ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald got a little emotional, and cheekily blamed the holiday spirit.
‘Hungover from Boxing Day and just cried when Warner made his ton. I need a beer,’ the Nova presenter and former AFL football wrote.
Other fans were full of praise for the polarising batter, who now has the second-most international centuries, sitting behind only Indian superstar Virat Kohli, for active players.
Warner is also only the second player in history to score a century in both his 100th Test and 100th ODI match.
Warner’s century has put Australia in a commanding position over South Africa as temperatures in Melbourne soar past 35 degrees.