David Warner has made a living out of proving people wrong. And on the eve of his 100th Test, the dashing left-hander intends on continuing that trend as speculation builds about his future in the Australian team.
Warner, 36, has yet to hit a Test century since the 2020 New Year’s Test against New Zealand and has just two half-centuries in 2022.
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Compounded by the fact his teammates in the top five continue to churn out the runs, with Travis Head riding the Ashes wave from last summer and Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith scoring centuries against the West Indies, Warner is the lone man out.
With a bumper 2023 ahead, including challenging tours of India and England, where the veteran opener has historically struggled, Warner’s place in the side, at least externally, has never been more in doubt.
Yet, in an interview with News Corp on the eve of his milestone where he will become just the 14th Australian to play 100 Tests, Warner opened up on his dogged determination and why he has often done things his unique way.
“I’ve learnt to do the opposite to what people think,” Warner told News Corp.
“The reason for that is people want you to do those things, right? So for me it’s just going out there and putting myself first. And making sure that I’m in the right frame of mind to do these things.
“I’ve got a hungry appetite for being successful.”
Warner believes his dogged roots come from his upbringing, where the opening batsman grew up in a housing commission and he was taught that things aren’t always handed out on a platter.
“My mum and dad gave me a great upbringing. They both worked six days a week,” Warner told News Corp.
“I lived in a town house of 40. Outside was a little bit rough. People wouldn’t come into that area. I’ve seen some bad things, but nothing that deterred me or scared me. We were quite street smart. We knew where we could go, where not to go. Matraville is a great suburb. One thing that stood out for me was our community all stuck together no matter what. There was a fair bit of drugs and domestic violence around the area and it was challenging at times. But we were always looking out for each other. We felt a sense of security in our own little community.
“I had to go and work at 14 years and nine months at Woolworths and I worked there for six years. We were driven to work at an early age and that instilled in me what hard work was and how to get by. I enjoyed that. I would never change it.
“I think that’s why I’m so resilient and I’ve got such a strong mind. That’s why I’m so up front and I call a spade a spade.
“I get anxious when people do the wrong thing by me, because I don’t know why people can’t be honest.”
In an interview with The Cricket Monthly in 2015, Warner painted a picture of some of the rough and ugly scenes he witnessed growing up.
“There was violence here and there,” he said. “One day in the ’90s a guy got murdered out the front of our house. We didn’t hear it but we saw the body lying there and the police came round.”
He credits his wife, Candice, for being the rock in his life and being the sole person in the world who listened to him when he was at his lowest.
Twice Warner said he felt abandoned.
The first was following his ugly incident in a bar, where he had an altercation with future England captain Joe Root.
Next was during the ball-tampering scandal that rocked Australian cricket in 2018.
“I didn’t feel like I had anyone to talk to back then. No one. I was different. I liked to enjoy my life,” Warner said.
“(Meeting Candice), I had someone to talk to. Someone to understand me. And someone who liked me for what I am. It was very hard to express yourself back then in the Australian team. There were people in that team who frowned upon certain things, because that’s not how they lived.
“I had no one to talk to. What highlighted that fact was obviously the incident with Joe Root. That was the big one. I had no support. None whatsoever from anyone, which was tough. When me and Candice were talking, I had someone to lean on and just speak to.
“She taught me discipline. Getting up, changing my routine, enjoying the morning and just doing things I never used to do. Train hard, stay fit, relax. She ingrained that in me.
“That shaped and moulded me into the person I am now.
“Where would I be if I wasn’t with Candice?”
Considered the hunter of the pack by international sides for more than a decade, Warner said he was brought to tears by the compassion some showed him following the Sandpapergate scandal.
“After I came back from South Africa we went to Singapore to get away, and there was this huge mass on and this Australian Priest came up to me and gave me his card,” Warner says.
“It gave me a sense of, ‘you’re still loved.’ And it really … it brought a tear to my eye.”
Warner says he doesn’t have any regrets.
“I don’t regret anything. You make your own path, right? No one is perfect and you should never judge anyone until you’re perfect,” he said.
“If you try and be this robotic person and individual that wants to please everyone, it’s going to come down anyway, because you can’t please everyone.”
However the cards fall on Boxing Day, one thing is for sure about Warner: he will do it his own way.
The Test shapes as his own Steve Waugh moment from 2002/03, as the then Australian captain scored runs in Melbourne and then a stunning century in Sydney to see him bow out on his own terms a year later.
With tours of India and England to come, as well as an ODI World Cup, Warner doesn’t want to ride off into the sunset yet.