NOTTINGHAM (AFP) – David Warner said he felt “just so grateful” to be playing for Australia after his run-laden return continued with a World Cup hundred against Bangladesh.
Warner’s international career came to a juddering halt when he was given a 12-month ban for his part in a ball-tampering scandal during a Test against South Africa in Cape Town last year.
At that stage, there was widespread speculation that Warner – widely regarded as the instigator of an event that saw Cameron Bancroft apply sandpaper to the ball – might never play for Australia again.
But having completed a year-long ban, the 32-year-old Warner has been in superb form for the reigning champions at the World Cup.
The left-handed opener made Bangladesh pay for dropping him on 10 at Trent Bridge on Thursday by scoring 166 – his second century of the World Cup – in a total of 381-5.
That proved too much for the Tigers to chase, with Australia winning by 48 runs to go top of the 10-team round-robin table.
Bangladesh’s total was still their largest in an ODI while the 714 runs shared between the two teams was a World Cup record, surpassing the 688 scored by Australia and Sri Lanka in 2015.
Warner is now this World Cup’s leading run-scorer with 447 runs at an average of 89.4.
Having acknowledged it had been a “dark year for Australian cricket”, Warner was asked if there had been any personal benefits to his enforced break.
“I feel a lot fresher. You don’t get a year off, you hardly get a couple weeks off (in international cricket).
“I’ve worked hard on my own fitness and taken my mind away from the game, just the little things of being on time for buses, for aeroplanes, packing your bags, travelling a lot.”
“You just let your mind be at ease. And to have time at home as well with my family was awesome and I really enjoyed that,” added Warner, whose wife is expecting the couple’s third child in England.
“(But) that was obviously a dark year for Australian cricket. And we’ve just got to keep winning for our country, doing the best we can.
“We just can’t be complacent and comfortable. We’ve got to keep moving forward playing our best cricket.”
Warner took 110 balls to get to three figures against Bangladesh – relatively sedate by modern standards.
“I don’t mean to go out there and bat slowly,” insisted Warner, who jokingly said his team-mates now call him “humble” following previous nicknames of ‘Bull’ and ‘The Reverend’.
“I’ve tried to get the calculation of how many fielders I’ve hit in the first 10. It’s a bit frustrating because you middle one and it goes full pace to the fielder.”
Warner received solid support in century stands from Australia captain Aaron Finch (53) and Usman Khawaja (89), with his skipper advising him to keep going early on. “Finchy kept on telling me to ‘hang in there and bat deep, bat time’,” Warner explained. “And that was in the eighth or ninth over.
“It’s generally not my game to just sit there. But it must be a bit more maturity, I think.”
Warner’s 16th one-day international century saw him equal Australia great Adam Gilchrist’s tally of hundreds in this format.
“I’m just so grateful for being able to have the opportunity to play for Australia and to be in the same sentence as Adam Gilchrist is fantastic and it’s overwhelming,” he said.
“He was a bit more of a dasher than what I am at the top of the order.
“But for me, it’s just about going out there and giving my best, to be honest.
“That’s all I want to be remembered for, is someone who gives 110 percent when I go out on the field.”