Warner’s epic 200 gives him chance to retire on top rather than risk sour ending in India or England

    David Warner can now retire on a high after turning back the clock with his magnificent double-century in his 100th Test against South Africa on Tuesday at the MCG. 

    It’s time to get out while the going is good by making next week’s SCG Test his last one.

    This inspirational knock, fighting cramps in the extreme heat as well as the effects of several blows to the NSW left-hander’s body, is the kind of Hollywood script fodder that would make a perfect ending to an against-the-odds sports movie.

    But even though Warner’s well-documented century drought stretching back nearly three years is over, that doesn’t mean, at 36 no less, he will now suddenly discover the secrets to scoring runs in India and England, the two destinations where he has struggled for nearly a decade.

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    Reality is much harsher than a Hollywood script.

    David Warner celebrates his double century. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

    In his eight Tests in India from 2013-17, he has just three half-centuries from 16 innings, a top score of 71 and an average of 24.25. 

    As for England, he went to the crease 25 times from 2013-19 without ever making a ton. He’s managed seven half-centuries but averages just 26.04 with a highest of 85. 

    And his last tour was a nightmare – 95 runs at 9.5 with 61 of them coming from a single innings.

    Stuart Broad was his nemesis four years ago and will be waiting for him again at the top of his mark, around the wicket.

    It was pleasing to see an all-time great of Australian cricket, one who has often been unfairly maligned for his bullish nature, show that he was not a spent force.

    And not only did Warner reach triple figures but he showed that old dominance to double that figure before ongoing cramps forced him to retire hurt.

    It was very on brand of Warner to drop to his knees and celebrate his 200, then try to launch into a celebratory leap even though he had already been cramping up and he knew deep down that the theatrics were probably not the best idea.

    But it’s that same stubbornness which has led him to a stellar career at international level after he was initially seen as T20 specialist who would become famous for novelty shots and bludgeoning power rather than the traditional skills that make batters great.

    It was in just his second Test when he proved he was made of the right stuff – an unbeaten 123 against New Zealand in a rare home loss to the Black Caps at Hobart in 2011. 

    Warner carried his bat in his fourth-innings vigil of more than six hours, ending up with a score more than double any other batter in the game to win player of the match honours despite being on the losing team.

    If he had failed in Melbourne and Sydney following the 16 previous Tests without a century, the current group of trigger-shy selectors would have been forced to let him know that they could no longer wait for him to come good. 

    Past players frequently say that it’s better to retire a year too early than a year too late. You want people to say why did you give it away when you did rather than why did you wait until it was too late.

    Warner now has that opportunity to go out on his own terms.

    David Warner raises his bat after scoring 100. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

    After all the recent dramas surrounding his appeal and subsequent retraction over his lifetime leadership ban for the ball-tampering dramas of 2018, being in control of his exit from Test cricket should be more important than risking it all by trying to reverse history at his two least-productive ports of call.

    India have leapfrogged South Africa to second spot in the World Test Championship. They will likely have Jasprit Bumrah back from injury and Australia cannot afford to carry an underperforming veteran. 

    As for who should replace him, the selectors do have options with Matt Renshaw, Marcus Harris and Cameron Bancroft in form in the Sheffield Shield ranks this summer.

    Each of them has learned a lot about their game since their first forays at Test level. It would be tough for them to come back into the team for tours to India and England, with a World Test Championship final likely in between, but there is rarely an easy time to work your way into the Test team. Players either sink or swim if they’re good enough or not. 

    Each of these openers has had a chance and have worked hard to potentially get another one to prove their careers shouldn’t drown without a trace.

    The likely scenario, however, is that Warner will plough on. That same bullish nature which has taken him past 8000 runs in his century of Tests.

    And even though the odds will be against him overcoming his poor record in India and England, he will either succeed or go down swinging, just like he has for his entire career.

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