‘Friendly’ Aussies ready for hostile tour

The Australian cricket side will aim to play every match of their South African tour in good spirits despite expected hostility from the crowd, coach Justin Langer said on Monday.

“We’re very happy to be back in South Africa. The last tour was a difficult one, but it was good, because we had to reassess where we were in Australian cricket and find a way to make the Australians proud of us again,” Langer said when addressing the media on Monday at Wanderers cricket stadium.

The Australians are in the country for the first time since the ball-tampering scandal in 2018 and have included both David Warner and Steve Smith in the side — two of the three players who were involved in that scandal.

Steve Smith breaks down during ball tampering press conference | ABC News

Warner and Smith were slapped with one-year bans from international cricket, but Langer insists that since their reintroduction 8 months ago, all Australian players have become great ambassadors for the sport, both on and off the pitch. 

“The tour of England was a great dress rehearsal for South Africa, because those two guys felt it there, but I was really proud of them because they let their bat do the talking, so hopefully they will be looking to get back into it and play good cricket here as well.”

However, captain Aaron Finch knows the passionate South African fans will not let them forget the recent past so easily. Nonetheless, he and his team intend to buck up and play the game.

“The crowd here are very vocal and our guys are expecting that, but David [Warner] loves that banter coming from the crowd, and at the end of the day, we are going to play cricket with a smile on our faces,” Finch said.

The Australian captain also admitted that he watched the England tour closely, which concluded on Sunday, and had great admiration for the South African side.

We’re very happy to be back in South Africa. The last tour was a difficult one, but it was good, because we had to reassess where we were in Australian cricket and find a way to make the Australians proud of us again

Justin Langer

“There’s new guys in there and some old guys helping them out, but they look like they are finding their best eleven. The batsmen were on fire with Quinton leading from the top and they played very well against England in the white ball series,” Finch concluded.

South Africa’s new look squad lost the T20 series 2-1 to England despite pushing them close in their defeat, but drew the ODI series 1-1. 

Proteas coach Mark Boucher has added three names to the squad that took on England in the T20 series as Faf du Plessis, Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada all return for Friday’s first T20 against Australia. Boucher has also teased that a return for AB de Villiers could be near.

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Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia is a member of the Mail & Guardian's online team.

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