David Warner’s hopes of featuring at the World Cup are well on track after the returning opener smashed a rapid century for Randwick-Petersham at Coogee Oval on Saturday.
With his side chasing a rain-reduced 223 from 29 overs, Warner showed no ill signs of the elbow injury that has sidelined him for the best part of two months by bludgeoning 110 off 77 against Penrith.
Warner is nearing the end of a 12-month suspension for his role in the ball-tampering scandal and is eligible to return to international cricket on March 29.
On Friday, Australian selectors confirmed Warner would not make his highly anticipated international comeback until the World Cup. He and Steve Smith were not included in a one-day squad for matches against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates later this month.
The pair will instead take part in the Indian Premier League, which gets underway on March 24.
Warner’s innings was measured to begin with. He cautiously picked balls to attack but hit multiple straight sixes over bowlers’ heads with the disdain of a player clearly a cut above all others on the field.
Instant return to form: David Warner was more subdued in his celebrations than when he hit a ton back in September.Credit:AAP
Almost every ball pinged out of the middle and he will be thrilled to be playing again. Warner pinched a number of sharp singles and twos in a clear sign there are no doubts over his fitness.
It looked like the 32-year-old would go on and win the game for Randwick-Petersham. After turning a ball into the leg-side to bring up triple figures, Warner casually acknowledged a crowd of a few dozens onlookers with a quick raise of the bat and an open glove.
It was far different to the leaping, exuberant celebration we saw in September at the same ground following his first hundred since being banned.
After Blues youngster Jason Sangha departed for 33 off 15 balls, Warner was then caught at backward point.
Scoreboard pressure ultimately suffocated Randwick-Petersham as they fell four runs short of their revised target, losing 7-36 in the process.
Warner pulled his sleeves up helped teammates with covers as the lunch-time rain subsided. He bought food at the canteen and sat in the stands just like any other grade cricketer does on a Saturday afternoon. There was even some touch footy action in the warm-ups.
After signing autographs for most of the day, Warner continued to do so in the dying overs while off the field.
Given the game finished at 7.10pm, Warner quickly showered, said goodbye to teammates, put on a white and black paisley shirt and left with wife Candice. On the way out, a volunteer said to Warner he could not have done more to help during the day.
It's safe to say the same will be said about Warner's determination to get back on the field for Australia in the coming months.
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