David Warner has celebrated an emotional century on his return to Australian cricket with his trademark leap and a wave of his bat to wife Candice and their daughters.
The banned opener and former Test captain Steve Smith made their bows at home in Sydney’s grade competition on Saturday just a few kilometres away from each other.
Warner made his return in Randwick-Petersham’s first fixture at Coogee Oval, where several hundred watched along, while Smith was the first of the two Test batsmen to face a ball in his club’s match against Mosman.
It was the former who went bigger as he scored a century against a bowling attack that featured Test paceman Josh Hazlewood and Sheffield Shield mainstay Trent Copeland.
Warner finished on 155 not out off 152 balls – striking 13 fours and a couple of sixes – as Randwick-Petersham reached St George’s target of 278 on the last ball of the innings.
Hazlewood, on the comeback trial from a back injury that has kept him out of Australia’s tour of the UAE against Pakistan, took 1-30 off eight overs.
“(Warner) played really well. He’s very good in those situations … a pretty special knock,” said Hazlewood, who expects to return to NSW duty in the one-day cup on October 1.
Asked if he exchanged any banter with Warner, Hazlewood said: “It was pretty quiet. He was just going about his business and knuckled right down and got the result, which is what he was after.”
Warner’s innings was watched by a healthy crowd, some of whom weren’t so sure about a celebration that, even in Test cricket, has always rubbed some fans the wrong way.
A video sent via Snapchat was uploaded to Twitter with the captions ‘is this bloke serious?’ and ‘someone tell this bloke it’s park cricket’.
Other fans described Warner as a ‘flog’ and questioned what the opposition thought of his leap.
The batsman copped the brunt of the criticism following Australia’s ball-tampering scandal after Cricket Australia found the opening batsman was responsible for hatching the plan and enlisting Cameron Bancroft to use the sandpaper.
Like Smith, Warner won’t be eligible to play international cricket again until early next year.
“He’s obviously a very good player. It’s about putting in place a culture that can fit him back in and hopefully he plays his best cricket when he does come back,” Hazlewood said.
“It’s still a long way away. He’s got some batters in there that he has to push out that are doing well so we’ll see when the time comes.”
Smith, meanwhile, received a warm welcome from an unusually large crowd at the Glenn McGrath Oval and looked his usual twitchy self at the crease as he rattled off a half century in 62 balls.
The 29-year-old made his return the week after getting married to long-time partner Dani.
Still the No.2 Test batsman in the ICC rankings, Smith took his tally to 85, including six fours and a six, before holing out to mid-on and receiving another ovation as he trudged back to the pavilion.
Smith was dropped early in his 92-ball innings but tallied six fours and a six. Like Warner, he top-scored for his club.
“He batted nicely. You could see he was very much in the zone,” said Smith’s former international teammate Shane Watson.
“He was always going to come out and do well. He’s obviously got plenty of desire inside him.”
Smith and Warner, who didn’t speak to the media after their matches, were greeted with warm applause when going out to bat.
“The support that he has got today will just reassure (Smith) that everything is OK,” said Watson, who couldn’t play alongside Smith due to injury.
“People do make mistakes and then people do forgive and certainly forgive very quickly.”