Here it has been the turn of Warner. With an unbeaten 335, he not only eclipsed Bradman’s unbeaten 299 against South Africa in 1932 as the highest ever score in Adelaide but both his triple-centuries, the 304 from Leeds in 1934 and the famous 334 at Headingley four years before.
With Warner in air that became even more rarified as the minutes passed, Michael Clarke’s 329 not out from Sydney in 2011 and Taylor’s unbeaten 334 from Peshawar in 1998 also entered the rear-view mirror before Paine promptly called Warner and Matthew Wade off at 3-589. Only Matthew Hayden’s 380 now sits above him on the all-time Australian list.
The declaration meant Warner wouldn’t get a tilt at Hayden’s mark and Lara’s world record of 400 as Paine clearly wanted a crack at Pakistan before the dinner interval and the forecast of wet weather on Sunday and Monday was also a major consideration.
Warner, however, didn’t see it as a missed opportunity at all.
“It wasn’t a thing in our mind to go out there and go out there and try and get that record or anything,” Warner said. “It was more about trying to put our team in a good position to win the Test with weather about tomorrow and the day after.
“I think I was more disappointed against New Zealand at the WACA [when he made 253 in 2015]. I felt there I could have gone on and done that.”
Warner said he had been told at the tea break that the declaration was coming at 5.40pm local time and Paine called it about 5.45pm, immediately after a Warner single had taken him past Bradman and Taylor’s score.
“I kept on asking when we were out there, at 5pm, and a 5.10pm, and I was making sure that was still the message and it was until I think that last over before, which just ticked over,” he said.
“Painey wanted me to try and get past that 334 mark.”
With the bowlers justifying Paine’s declaration it will take a serious amount of rain now to save Pakistan. They lost one wicket in the six overs Australia had at them before dinner and properly fell apart afterwards, with Mitchell Starc collecting 4-22 and Paine taking a brilliant diving catch as Pakistan collapsed to 6-96, the gulf between the teams laid bare by the 493-run margin with three days remaining.
As ruthless as Starc was, the day belonged to Warner. He had accelerated after marking the triple ton with an emotional celebration that included a glance above, just as he had five years earlier here when he made twin hundreds two weeks after the death of Phillip Hughes.
There was also a bow towards the Sir Donald Bradman Pavilion and then a couple more later when he walked off. Clapped off by Australian and Pakistani players and feted by the 33,943 spectators, he handed his helmet to a child in the crowd.
It was the sort of performance that would have been beyond him in its breadth as a younger man, when he wasn’t as supremely fit as he is now didn’t have the same discipline on and off the ground.
Fans don’t tend to stream through the gates to watch a batsman’s running between the wickets but it was one of the key features of a display in which Warner was rarely troubled and took few risks but was still a delight to watch. He ran for 301 runs, counting those that went alongside his name and those of his batting partner at the time, and despite the often poor quality of the bowling it wasn’t until after he was beyond 300 that a lone six was flicked over midwicket.
“I pride myself on my fitness,” he said. “If I’m away from the game and not in the nets, I’m either on the treadmill or running the coastal walk [in Sydney]. I walk every day before games.”
While the headlining Warner was applauded for milestone after milestone, Smith was for once was relegated to a support act as the pair in unison for the first time in a Test match since their return from 12-month suspensions. There was warm recognition of Smith reaching 7000 Test runs – he made it there faster than anyone in history, Hammond, Sobers, the lot – moments after his not insignificant passing of Bradman’s tally of 6996. But this was Warner’s occasion to pursue Bradman and be lauded for it.
Smith stuck around to witness Warner’s 250 but, as in Brisbane, left on 36 in a very un-Smith way. It was as if the cabin fever of being holed up in the dressing-room for more than a day had taken its toll and he lashed out with a wild slog at Shaheen Afridi after tea and was caught behind.
Warner, who was joined by Wade (38 not out) in the closing stages of his marathon innings, did have the fortune of another reprieve via a no-ball on 226, with overstepping costing 19-year-old Musa Khan a prized maiden wicket in his first Test, just as fellow teenage debutant Naseem Shah had been denied the scalp of Warner’s as his first at the Gabba.
He made Pakistan pay for it.
Chris Barrett is Sports Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.