“Yeah, just keep batting,”
That was the not-so subtle urgings of Steve Smith to energy-sapped David Warner’s cries of cramp as the heat enveloped them both during an epic MCG innings destined to join some of the most storied in Australian test history.
Smith had only seen cramping like it in the sub-continent, as Warner went down time and again, throwing his hand in the air for medical assistance as he plundered the perfect double-century which ended in exhaustion-induced retirement.
But the more Warner started to cramp, issues which began after he reached his first century in nearly three years, the better he batted.
The MCG was too big to run, Smith said, so shots the likes of which Warner has flayed to all parts of grounds all over the world in his illustrious 100 test career started to flow.
“The more he started to cramp the more shots he started to play and everything seemed to be coming out of the middle,” Smith said in the aftermath of their 239-run partnership, achieved in stifling 37C heat which eventually left Warner unable to walk.
“It was an amazing knock and nice to be up the other end for a large chunk of it
“Just the way he took the game on and any anything short or anything loose he was pouncing on it defended really nicely when he needed to and just to was a great innings.”
Smith and Warner have been in the trenches together before, on-field and off, forever linked by not just their glut of tests together, but their infamous involvement in the sandpaper scandal in 2018.
But their bond is strong enough that Smith was able to rebut Warner’s complaints, as his legs seized up and the pickle-juice just wasn’t enough, urging him to keep going with a cheeky jibe.
Smith was zoned in on his keeping his own remarkable MCG run going too, before falling short of his own triple-figure score.
“I was doing my thing and he was doing his. It was just like, ‘keep batting’,” Smith said of their mid-pitch meetings.
“He was like, ‘I’m cramping”. I was like, “Good. Just keep going.“
It wasn’t quite Allan Border’s famous “I’ll get a Queenslander out here” demand to Dean Jones as the dehydrated Victorian struggled his way to a double-hundred in Madras in 1986, but it’s sure to earn its own status in the re-telling of Warner’s efforts in years to come.
It wasn’t the first-time Smith has seen cramping issues like it, although all previous experiences were a long way from home.
“A couple of times. I think in Sri Lanka I‘ve seen it a few times. I’ve experienced it myself there. I had a full body cramp at Colombo. It’s not much fun,” Smith said.
“And I think a few guys in Chittagong when it was really hot a few years back were struggling and Davey was one of them.”
Despite walking from the ground looking like he’d given all he could, Warner could have plenty more left too according to Smith, who wasn’t keen to see the back of his batting mate any time soon.
“He‘s obviously doing pretty well. He’s fit. I don’t see any reason why he can’t continue playing,” Smith said.
“He certainly saw the ball well today. He can play for as long as he likes.”
Originally published as Steve Smith says he ignored David Warner’s cramping cries at the MCG