AUS vs SA: Smith backs ‘under fire’ Warner to deliver in Boxing Day Test

Veteran David Warner goes into Boxing Day without a Test ton in almost three years, but his long-time teammate Steve Smith on Wednesday backed the Australia opener to turn things around in the second against South Africa and deliver under pressure, saying that “when his back’s up against the wall, he’s done pretty well”.

Warner is running out of chances to bow out of red-ball cricket on his own terms after being removed for a golden duck and three by South Africa spearhead Kagiso Rabada during the two-day Gabba Test to open the three-match series.

The 36-year-old has not made a Test century since January 2020, and failed to pass 50 against West Indies during big wins in Perth and Adelaide.

The star opener hopes to play Test cricket until at least the end of next year’s Ashes, with a tour of India looming before the five-match series in England. But the decision could be taken out of his hands after averaging just 20.61 in 10 Tests this year.

“You only have to look back a (few) weeks ago (to) a one-day game out here (at the MCG) against England, he scored 100 on what was a pretty tough wicket,” Smith said about Warner, who is set to play his 100th Test when Australia takes on South Africa at the MCG.

“We’ve seen David when his back’s up against the wall, he’s done pretty well,” he added.

The right-hander batter pointed to last year’s Twenty20 World Cup in Dubai, when Warner was struggling but was able to turn it around and be named player of the tournament.

“It doesn’t matter what format of the game, Davey always plays in a pretty similar way, which has been the beauty of him in Test cricket, being able to take the game on from ball one,” Smith said.

“Sometimes it doesn’t work, and he hasn’t had a great deal of luck lately,” he added.

Australia are 1-0 up in the three-match series against South Africa with a six-wicket triumph at the Gabba on Sunday.

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