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Feature

Warner's best in Tests: Carrying the bat, defying grief, and the triple century

A century in a session and an epic Cape Town double also feature in the list

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
24-Dec-2022 • Updated on 30-Dec-2023
Left to right: Celebrating his triple century; taking on the India bowlers; remembering Phil Hughes

Left to right: Celebrating his triple century; taking on the India bowlers; remembering Phil Hughes  •  Getty Images

David Warner's Test career, which began in 2011, will come to a close this week in Sydney. ESPNcricinfo looks back at some of the standout performances. This is an updated version of a piece first published for his 100th Test last year.
123* vs New Zealand, Hobart 2011
Any scepticism around Warner as a Test player disappeared during his second outing when he almost singlehandedly prevented Australia from suffering a shock loss to New Zealand in Hobart. He couldn't prevent it, but New Zealand would have done it so far more easily without Warner's stunning, unbeaten 123 on a green top in a fourth-innings chase.
Across the first three innings of the match, Dean Brownlie and Ross Taylor were the only batters to pass 50. Australia were chasing 241 for victory and Warner had them on track at 159 for 2 before Doug Bracewell tore through the Australia's line up to leave them 199 for 9 as he watched from the other end, having already reached his first Test century. He and Nathan Lyon were left to try and find the final 42 runs. The pair added 34 before Lyon was bowled through the gate by Bracewell, leaving Warner unbeaten on 123 just eight runs shy of victory.
180 vs India, Perth 2012
Virender Sehwag had famously told Warner he would be a better Test player than a T20 player, and this was the innings where Sehwag was proved right, much to his and India's chagrin.
India were bowled out for 161 in 60.2 overs on a sporting day one WACA pitch before Warner proceeded to smash a hundred in a session, off just 69 balls. He clubbed 13 fours and three towering sixes, including one over long-on to bring up his century. It was the equal-fourth-fastest Test century at the time, and there have been only two quicker since. Like Sehwag, he also gave a glimpse of his ability to go on after posting a three-figure score. Warner finished with 180 from 159 balls with 20 fours and five sixes. The next highest score in the match was 75 and only two other players passed 50 as Australia won by an innings and 37 runs.
135 and 145 vs South Africa, Cape Town 2014
Warner was in sparkling form having made a hundred in a victory in Centurion and then twin fifties in the second Test loss in Gqeberha, which opening partner Chris Rogers described as "some of the best batting I had ever seen".
In the decider in Cape Town, Warner ripped the game away from South Africa on the opening morning, racing to 75 in the first session on his way to posting a stunning 135 from 152 balls against an attack of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and Kyle Abbott. Australia's bowlers ripped through South Africa to hand them a 207-run lead before Warner wreaked havoc again, smashing 145 in the second innings to score twin centuries in a Test for the first time. Australia bowled South Africa out in the final innings to claim a 2-1 series win and climb to No. 1 in the Test rankings.
133 vs Pakistan, Dubai 2014
While Warner had flayed bowlers on the fast and bouncy pitches in Australia and South Africa, his first foray to India in 2013 had been a struggle. His next Test in subcontinental-type conditions came in the UAE in 2014 and he produced one of his finest away centuries in Dubai.
One of the most under-rated difficulties of opening the batting in Test cricket is batting second after the opposition has piled up a massive first-innings score. Six of Warner's 24 Test centuries have come in the second innings of a match, but this was the only time he made a century when the opposition had batted more than five sessions. Pakistan piled up 454 in 145 overs. Warner, unperturbed by the long stint in the field, raced to a run-a-ball 50 and was 75 at stumps on the second day. He went on to make 133 when the next highest score in Australia's innings was 38 from Rogers in an opening stand of 128. Australia were bowled out for 303 and would go on to lose by 221 runs.
145 and 102 vs India, Adelaide 2014
This might have been one of his finest performances in terms of mental fortitude given what had unfolded only weeks earlier. Warner was on the field when his close friend and sometimes Test opening partner Phillip Hughes suffered his fatal blow. Warner rode with Hughes on the medical cart as he was driven from the middle of the SCG to a waiting ambulance.
Just weeks later, Australia lined up for their first Test since the tragedy. Every batter felt different facing up after what had taken place, and every Australian player played with a heavy emotional burden. Warner shook all that off to make a pulsating 145 on the opening day. He paused poignantly on 63 not out, just as Hughes had, before racing to his century in 106 balls. Warner then added a century in the second innings to post twin Test hundreds for the second time in the calendar year and set up an extraordinary win.
253 vs New Zealand Perth 2015
Though made on a lifeless WACA pitch, there was still a notable magnitude to this innings. Warner was barely troubled as he posted his then highest Test score and his first Test double-century. He shared a century stand with Joe Burns, and a triple-century stand with Usman Khawaja, who also made 121.
Warner looked almost certain to make 300, having cruised to 244 at stumps on the opening day, and there were even whispers of Brian Lara's world record being within sight. But, to everyone's surprise, and his own frustration, Warner fell early on day two poking Trent Boult to second slip. Warner's 253 was not even the highest score in the match, with Ross Taylor piling up 290 in reply.
113 vs Pakistan, Sydney 2017
In 140 years of Test cricket prior to 2017, only Victor Trumper, Charles Macartney, Donald Bradman and Majid Khan had scored a century in the opening session of a Test match. Warner added his name to the list with one of his fastest against Pakistan in the New Year's Test of 2017.
On his home ground at the SCG, he plundered a century off just 78 balls to give Australia a rollicking start. He fell in just the 33rd over for 113 with the score at 151 for 1. Warner then made a 27-ball 55 in the second innings to set up a third-innings declaration and buy Australia enough time to bowl Pakistan out, which they did.
112 vs Bangladesh, Mirpur 2017
Warner's overseas record is often fodder for his critics. Two of his best innings came in a series that was largely ignored by the Australian public. One came in an ignominious Test loss in Dhaka.
Much like his first Test century in Hobart, Warner almost singlehandedly dragged Australia over the line as they were set 265 to win in the fourth innings. Except, unlike Hobart, Warner was not the last left standing. He made 112 from 135 balls as Australia reached 158 for 2 after being 28 for 2. Warner had done all of the scoring with Steven Smith simply surviving at the other end. But when Warner fell to Shakib Al Hasan, the wheels fell off. Smith fell shortly after for 37, the next highest score in the innings, and Australia collapsed for 244, suffering their first Test loss to Bangladesh.
123 vs Bangladesh, Chattogram 2017
Warner avenged that defeat in the next Test, continuing his sparkling form in Chattogram. Australia were again on the wrong end of the toss, but after Lyon's seven-wicket haul, Warner made one of his most patient centuries. He struck just seven boundaries in 123 off 234 balls over six hours as Australia ground their way to a 72-run first-innings lead.
It proved decisive, as Lyon bagged another six wickets to bowl Bangladesh out for just 157 the second time around to leave Australia to knock off 86 for a series-levelling win. As it stands, Warner's 123 is his most recent Test century overseas as he has failed to post one in 13 Tests since then.
335* vs Pakistan, Adelaide 2019
Only one man in Australia's long Test history has made a higher score in a Test match than Warner's 335 not out at Adelaide Oval in 2019 against Pakistan. Such was Warner's dominance and rate of scoring in the innings, he was afforded the opportunity to pass Bradman and Mark Taylor's 334 to move to second behind Matthew Hayden's 380, while Australia were still able to win by an innings inside four days.
Pakistan's attack was not as weak as some would believe with Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Abbas and Yasir Shah doing the bulk of the work. But Warner marmalised them in the midst of a staggering run of form. It was his second consecutive score of over 150 and it came on the back of the worst series of his career, when he averaged 9.50 in the five-match Ashes series just months earlier.
Talk around Warner's place in the side had reached fever pitch again as he played his 100th Test. There had been the messy end to his attempts at having his leadership ban overturned a few weeks earlier and in the first Test against South Africa he had been bounced out. But he dug as deep as he ever has to compile a double century - the second hundred taking 110 balls - while battling severe cramps as the milestone approached although he was still able to summon the trademark leap before retiring hurt. He was just the second player to score a double hundred in his 100th Test.

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo