Sydney, Jan 1: Ahead of playing his last Test match, David Warner has expressed gratitude towards Greg Chappel, who was the selector in 2011, for showing belief and faith in his talent and abilities for making a successful career in the longest format of the game.
Warner burst onto the scene as a white-ball specialist, but he recalled how his knock of 211 for Australia A on the tour of Zimbabwe in 2011, where Chappell was present, gave him the feeling about having a career in Test cricket.
"I think I owe that to Greg Chappell, who showed belief and faith in my talent and ability and the way that I play the game. In Zimbabwe (on an Australia A tour in 2011) I've got a memory of him when I was 40 not out at lunchtime and he comes up to me and goes, 'this innings will change your life if you score a hundred'.”
“I went on to get 200 (211) and he told me, 'I told you so'. I look back at that and they're my fondest memories of how I started. I got given the opportunity to open in one-day cricket through Dom Thornely (with NSW) … out of nowhere after that Zimbabwe series, I'm opening the batting for NSW.”
“From there, it's been quite surreal. I wouldn't have ever imagined opening the batting for NSW or anyone when I first started. But to be here after 112 Tests and coming out for the last time, I'm still pinching myself," said Warner in a press conference ahead of Sydney Test against Pakistan starting on January 3.
Warner also admitted that he still finds it difficult to talk about the passing away of Phil Hughes in November 2014, and who was also his opening partner on Test debut. "For us being here when he fell that day was quite sad and terrible. Still today, it hits us hard. I've always seen him at the other end. All the boys know he's looking down upon us.”
“It's still hard to talk about today because I think he was going to be one of our greatest opening batters ever. He had every shot in the book. His character, his energy and his smile lit up the room. Best mates with everyone, no-one would ever say a bad word about him and I truly, truly believe today, if he was still with us, he'd be in my position or Uzzie's position."
Cut to now, and Warner will be opening the batting for the final time in Tests in the company of Usman Khawaja, also his childhood friend. "I was saying to Uzzie this morning, in his debut Test I was actually sitting up in one of the boxes (at the SCG) and it was awesome to see. It is a fairytale ending."
"I don't know too many cricketers who have gone through junior cricket with each other and played at the highest level for a long period of time. Just to see him come back the way he has the last two years has been absolutely amazing. I know his family are really, really proud of him."
"I'm really, really proud of him as a mate. It brought a tear to my eye when he scored that hundred when he first came back (in the 2021-22 Ashes at the SCG). When you're childhood friends and you get to go out here at the SCG (having been here) as kids, dreaming big, it's a great feeling. I love him." (IANS)