David Warner was dismissed by Karn Sharma © Getty Images
David Warner (above) was dismissed by Karn Sharma © Getty Images

Adelaide: Dec 9, 2014

David Warner said 63 will remain a special score for Australian cricketers as he dedicated his century in the first Test to fallen team-mate Phillip Hughes on Tuesday.

Warner’s inspired 145 off 163 balls helped boost the hosts to 354 for six at the end of day one against India as Australia returned to action following Hughes’ funeral. The explosive left-hander said he found it challenging when he reached 63, Hughes’s score when he was fatally struck in the head by a short-pitched ball in Sydney on November 25.

The Adelaide Oval crowd sensed it too and broke out in sustained applause, as they had before the start of play with a symbolic 63 seconds of clapping to honour Hughes. “It was quite tough when I was on 63 to actually get that momentum and (batting partner) Michael Clarke asked me if I was okay, and I was,” Warner said. “I had to step away for a couple of seconds to get the thought process back again.”

Asked if 63 will now hold a special significance in Australia, Warner said: “In this generation I think 100 percent, it’s going to be with us for the rest of our careers. “A lot of people would have raised their bats at 63 but in the back of our minds we always are going to look up there and know he’s (Hughes) going to be looking down on us. I am going to carry that for the rest of my career. It’s one of those things where you just have to keep soldiering on and do your best. We know he’s always going to be with us and he’s always going to be in the back of our minds as well.”

— Dreading Sydney —

Warner said he was in two minds whether to celebrate with his trademark exuberant jump upon reaching his 10th Test century, and fifth hundred this year. “It was in the back of my mind whether I should celebrate or not but I know what Hughesy’s like and he would always have told me to keep jumping and keep doing what I do. I dedicate that hundred to him and Michael said to me he would be proud of us both and try to get on and win the game.”

As part of his celebration Warner, one of the first to rush to Hughes when he was struck down in Sydney, embraced batting partner Clarke in a long mid-pitch hug. “It was little moment we shared out there,” he said.

Warner said his pain over Hughes will not subside, and he is expecting it to be worse when the India series moves to the fourth Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the New Year.

“For me, personally, I think the hardest thing for me is going to be the New Year’s Day Test at the SCG, where it all unfolded and happened,” Warner said. “I think it will be the toughest task for me and the other guys who were there as well.”

Hughes died on November 27 from bleeding on the brain, two days after being knocked unconscious by a bouncer while batting for South Australia against New South Wales.