Sydney: David Warner said he was in tears before he went out to score an emotional century to put Australia in a strong position in the final Test against India in Sydney on Tuesday.
Warner, who was deeply affected by the tragic death of his close friend Phillip Hughes in November, mastered his demons to score his first Test century at the Sydney Cricket Ground where Hughes was killed.
David Warner kisses the spot at SCG where Phil Hughes was struck. Pic/ PTI
Warner crashed 101 off 114 balls as the Australians took full advantage of winning the toss to be 348 for two at first-day stumps.
The fourth Test in Sydney was always going to be a difficult and emotional time for the Australian team returning to the scene where former team-mate Hughes was fatally struck by a short-pitched ball in a domestic game on November 25. Warner was fielding close to Hughes and then held his mate's hand as he was carried off in a critical condition and later died.
There was a touching acknowledgement by Warner of reaching 63, the symbolic score Hughes was on when he was fatally struck. Warner kissed the ground close to where Hughes was hit and then looked skywards before clapping in tribute.
"It's always going to be in the back of my mind and I'm always going to pay tribute to my little mate," Warner said. "It was in the back of mind the whole time whether I was on 63 or 100, I thought it through that I wanted to pay tribute to my mate. "Every time I play here I will definitely be doing that."
Adding poignancy to the occasion was the presence of the Hughes family at the SCG for the Test. "I had a tear in my eye this morning when I walked out to warm up and I saw the Hughes family up in the stands," Warner said. "It's fantastic for them to be here. The hurt and the pain that they've gone through and how much it would have hurt them to come back today.
"It's just courageous for them to be here today and I applaud them for making the effort to come." Warner admitted to being emotional before going out to bat. "I was quite emotional at the singing of the anthems," he said.
"The tributes put those memories back in place and seeing that little smile up on the big screen before going out to bat and singing the national anthem was quite hard. "I had a minute to myself when we came back off and had my head in the towel and I had to dig deep to go out there and bat the way I know I can and try and clear my mind. "But I got out there and got back on the horse."