Centurion Warner claims he is finally coming of age

Australia's opening batsman helps his team to 479-run lead in first Test against South Africa.

David Warner, the Australia opening batsman, hit his sixth Test century on Friday. Themba Hadebe / AP Photo
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Another century for David Warner was further proof of a growing maturity in both his professional and personal life, the opener said after a quick-fire ton on Friday put Australia in a commanding position in the first Test against South Africa.

“Probably not going out and punching blokes at a club sums it up,” he said of his transition from the enfant terrible of the team less than a year ago to a key player in Australia’s march to a formidable 479-run lead after the third day at SuperSport Park.

“I put a lot of credit down to a lot of hard work with my batting coach back home, and also my conditioning trainer.

“Also, since I’ve settled down with Candice, things have been fantastic there. The way she prepares for her sport influences me to knuckle down and be the best I can at the moment.”

His partner, Candice Falzon, is a professional endurance athlete who competes in Ironman competitions.

“I’m scoring runs more consistently now, although I’d like them more in the first innings than in the second innings, but I’m just enjoying my cricket at the moment and enjoying winning games for Australia.”

Warner, 27, smashed 115 off 151 balls yesterday as he thrashed the South Africa bowlers to all parts of the ground, although he survived three catching chances.

It was a marked transformation from June last year, when he was fined and almost sent home before the start of the Ashes series in England after punching the England player Joe Root in a Birmingham nightclub.

Warner was suspended for a month but was spared the embarrassment of becoming the first player sent home from an Ashes series.

He denied a drinking problem but was out of sorts in his three Test appearances, scoring just 128 runs as England won the series comfortably.

Warner bounced back in the follow-up Ashes series over the Australian summer with a century in the first Test in Brisbane, another in Perth and ended as his team’s top run-scorer in the 5-0 whitewash with 523 at an average of 58.11.

He has shown no loss of form at the start of the three-match series against top-ranked South Africa.

“I watched how AB de Villiers batted for South Africa and it proved that showing intent was the way forward.

“I needed to keep on playing the way I do,” said the compact batsman with a swashbuckling approach to the game.

“Obviously, it was handy for us to have a lead and that also meant I could play the way I wanted to.”