Australia opener David Warner is braced for a hostile reception but hopes fans will show “respect” as he and Steve Smith return to South Africa for the first time since the ‘Sandpapergate’ ball-tampering scandal that rocked world cricket.
The last time the pair played in South Africa, almost two years ago, it was sent home in disgrace for attempting to alter the ball with sandpaper during a Cape Town Test. It cost the two 12-month suspensions and for Warner, a lifetime leadership ban.
Forgiven at home
They have since resurrected their careers and are all but forgiven at home, with Warner this week winning a vote by players, officials and media to claim Australian cricket’s highest honour, the Allan Border Medal — with Smith placed second.
But both players were constantly booed and jeered during last year’s one-day World Cup and Ashes series in England, and they are expected to receive similar treatment in South Africa.
The batsmen are both in the Australian squad for three T20Is and three ODIs beginning February 21. The T20 on February 26 will mark the visitors’ first match at Newlands since the 2018 scandal.
“For me personally, it won’t be hard at all,” Warner told Sydney radio station 2GB this week. “I just go there and I’ve got a job to do and that’s to score runs and win games for Australia and put us in a good position.”
But he added that “obviously, it’s going to be very hostile”.
Australia will be using the tour to fine-tune preparations for the T20 World Cup on home soil in October — the only major cricket trophy the men’s team has not won.
Equally dangerous batsman and wrist-spinner D’Arcy Short, who has been overlooked for a year, has replaced him in both formats.
“If you look at our squad selections over the last couple of months, it’s all been pretty consistent,” said skipper Aaron Finch.