DAVID Warner learnt how to score runs with a hand-me-down bat his brother won in a competition.
Hitting a frayed tennis ball back and forth against the side of his Matraville public housing flat, Warner spent a childhood dreaming of one day being crowned king of the SCG.
On Tuesday, 10km down the road from his humble family home, cricket’s self-made superstar stunned the world with one of the greatest hundreds ever scored.
Even by Warner’s lofty standards, this was career-defining stuff.
There are some records in cricket that change as often as numbers on the scoreboard, but others stand tall forever like stone monuments.
Warner’s blistering 78-ball century before lunch on day one of the Sydney Test, is one of those unforgettable achievements.
So rare is a ton before sandwiches are served that only four batsmen in the game’s 140-year history have done it, and none on Australian soil.
It’s hard to set up a game in the first session of a Test let alone win it, but Warner, unlike any modern-day player, is capable of destroying an opposition in the blink of an eye.
So effortless were Warner’s 17 boundaries, he almost made the impossible seem easy, but when he dashed through for his 100th run his emotion-charged celebration said it all.
More spectacular than anything seen on the harbour on New Year’s Eve three nights ago, Warner and the SCG erupted as one.
This was entertainment personified.
“I always ride my luck. I play the way that I see it,” Warner said.
“I live by the sword, die by the sword. First ball or last ball, that’s how I play and how I’ve always approached it.”
Warner stroked his way into the history books with a brand new bat, but as a kid he never had access to the best equipment, and it was his late uncle who often chipped in to help out.
He wanted for nothing as a kid, but his background is anything but privileged.
Once as a primary-school aged youngster, Warner came outside to find the dead body of a man lying outside his family housing commission flat.
“There was violence here and there,” Warner once said.
“One day in the ‘90s a guy got murdered out the front of our house.
“We didn’t hear it but we saw the body lying there and the police came round.”
Years later, Warner married Maroubra girl Candice Falzon, who had helped him turn around his entire approach to the game after an earlier string of off-field dramas.
They now have two beautiful daughters and still call Sydney’s east home, still a virtual stone’s throw away from where it all started.
Warner — Australian cricket’s man of the people — has now scored three consecutive Test centuries in Sydney — and for Sydney.
Matraville’s working class battler has risen from nothing to become the beating heart of the game in Australia.
Original article by Ben Horne for The Daily Telegraph on January 3, 2017 6:00pm.