David Warner has come to the defence of MCG curator Matt Page ahead of the Boxing Day Test, suggesting the criticism of those preparing wickets has been unfair.
All eyes are on the type of pitch Page serves up for the second Test between Australia and South Africa, following the controversial green top from the opening Test in Brisbane, which finished inside two days.
Despite being under immense pressure himself, Warner revealed the kind words he’d offered Page ahead of the Boxing Day Test.
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“You’ve got to give the curators a pat on the back as well, give him some confidence to keep going out there and preparing the wickets they can prepare,” he said.
“As a batter, I’d love to bat on cement, but we can’t, so you’ve got to find ways and I feel like sometimes there’s a bit of criticism that goes their way that shouldn’t. So I just gave him a pat on the back and told him he’s doing a great job.”
The veteran opener, who will be playing in his 100th Test, said the pitch looked like “a normal, traditional MCG wicket” days out from the Boxing Day Test.
It’s a momentous occasion for Warner, who revealed that he never imagined he’d open the batting for Australia in the longer format of the game.
“I got thrown into opening the batting,” he said.
“I always thought that I might’ve had that dream of maybe being a middle order batter for Australia in one day cricket specifically, not Test matches. But to come out here and play my 100th Test where I started my T20 career is amazing.
“I still pinch myself today and I’m as excited as ever to get back out here and play another Boxing Day Test. It’s still a surreal moment.”
There is immense pressure on Warner to return a big score following a lean calendar year in the Test arena, but he isn’t daunted by the level of expectations.
“Growing up through a housing commission really taught me how to fight hard and to achieve that goal that you wanted to do,” he said.
“I’m living every housing commission boy’s dream. I wanted to play cricket for Australia, I’m doing that now.
“Yeah, my back’s up against a wall, but it’s in my DNA to keep being competitive and to come out here with a smile on my face and to take on whatever opposition I’m about to face.
“I’m here today standing about to play my 100th Test match and I couldn’t be any more proud of me, my family for getting me here, and my closest friends.”
Australia will pay tribute to Shane Warne, with the Test the first to be played at the spin icon’s beloved MCG since his sudden death earlier this year, and Warner said Australia’s motivation to win the Test was “massive” in order to honour Warne.
“From our perspective, it was big coming through when Phil (Hughes) passed away,” he said.
“Obviously an icon of the game, Shane Warne, who I didn’t get an opportunity to play with, but what he did for cricket, for Australian cricket, and for people around the world was absolutely amazing.
“I loved growing up watching Warnie. He was such a larrikin, he got the best out of every single person, and when he was on the field that competitive nature that he always had was fantastic.
“It’s going to be a big occasion for us as a team, but for everyone in cricket in especially Australia and Melbourne.
“When you get out here, recognise that and put on your floppy (hats) and some white zinc, it’ll be much appreciated.”
Australia has the chance to seal a series win against South Africa on Boxing Day, with the third Test to be played at the SCG in the first week of January.
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