Australian opener David Warner on Monday revealed that he was ready to walk away from Test cricket following the second Ashes Test at Lord’s last year had he not scored any runs. Warner will bid farewell to the longest format of the game with the third Test against Pakistan at his home arena of Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). At the start of the tour to the UK ahead of the ICC World Test Championship final against India, Warner had made his intentions clear to retire from whites at his home stadium but also said that form would play a part.
During that time, selectors had also named the squad for only the first two Ashes Tests initially, as per ESPNCricinfo.
Ahead of the final Test against Pakistan, Warner talked about how the Lord’s Test could have been his farewell had he felt that he was not contributing to the team.
“I said quite clearly in England before the World Test Championship, there was a lot of talk about me and my form, [and] I wanted to nip it in the bud early, I said my ideal preparation to finish would be Sydney. But I actually had Lord’s penciled in as my last Test, especially if I did not go as well as I did as a partnership with Uzzie [Usman Khawaja] at the top of the order,” said Warner as quoted by ESPNCricinfo.
In that match at Lord’s which Australia won, Warner scored 66 and 25 in both innings. He had also made an important 43 in the first innings of the WTC final, setting the tone for centuries by Travis Head and Steve Smith. But the first Ashes Test was mixed, as he could score only nine and 36 at Edgbaston.
In the first two Ashes Tests, Warner had three valuable half-century stands with Usman Khawaja and in the final Test at The Oval, he put on a 140-run stand with Khawaja. The big hundred came during the first Pakistan Test at Perth, scoring 164 and silencing all his critics.
“Then from there it just followed on that we played some good innings together. I did not have that hundred [in England] that I always wanted but eluded me. But as a team and as a whole we did our bit, so to get this ending is awesome, but it is not about me, it is about us. We have won the series, but to win 3-0 and have a whitewash here at the SCG would be a great thing for the team,” he added.
Warner said that he never doubted his abilities but wanted to make the best decision in the team’s interest.
“If you are down 2-0, and you go into that third one, and you lose that, I do not think it is the right choice to make [to keep playing]. It is an easy exit. For me, a second [reason] was if I was failing and we had not won, then it would have been an easier decision,” said Warner.
“I did not want to put the team or the selectors in a position where they had to think about, ‘mate, it is time to push on’. It was more about me just going, ‘I am content with that. I am happy with it, I have had a great career’. But if I could still do my best and bat well with Uzzie and put us into a good position…I could do that for the rest of the series,” he added.
The opener admitted that his emotions around his Test farewell have grown in recent weeks.
“When I looked at Lord’s as a potential finish, I did not really have many emotions because I was content. I might not have been scoring runs, but I still had the desire to play Test cricket. I love the game of cricket, it does not matter what format I am playing. But definitely, it has been emotional since Perth, since I have been back in Australia and knowing that I am playing [my final Test],” he said.
“Getting that 160, putting us into a great position for the team, it hit home when people in the streets were coming up and saying, ‘well done, we support you, we back you’. It really means a lot. The emotions probably started then,” added the batter.
On how he wants to be remembered as a Test player, Warner said as someone “who has given his all”.
“A boy from housing commission having a dream. I have not always fitted the mould, but I have been authentic and honest…and I think that shows you on the field in Test cricket, I have played the exact same way. I am even playing lap shots like I do in T20 cricket. I am still trying my best to get better even in this last Test. I am hungry to score runs,” said Warner.
“It is no different to any other game and I just want to leave behind that you can go out and play the way you want to play. You can play with freedom, you can play reverse sweeps like Joe Root if you want. You have got the ability to do that and you have got to trust and believe in yourself,” he concluded.
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