Batsman David Warner is expecting a hostile reception from the South African crowds when Australia arrive at the end of the month for a short-format series.
Warner and Steve Smith will make their first return to South Africa since the famous ‘Sandpaper Gate’ of 2019, after which the pair as well as Cameron Bancroft copped hefty suspensions from the ICC and Cricket Australia.
The Proteas will face Australia at Newlands, the venue where the incident took place two years ago, on 26 February in what will be the final T20I of the three-match series before the ODIs get under way.
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Speaking at the Australian Cricket Awards dinner on Sunday, Warner knows what is in store for himself after receiving abuse for the incident in England during last year’s Cricket World Cup.
‘I knew what I was walking into in England and I know exactly what I’m walking into in South Africa. You just look at the recent series against England; it doesn’t matter where you go in the world, you’re probably going to cop something of some sort. You’ve got to try and get that out of your head and not let that affect you. I’ve well and truly learned my lessons from last time.
‘It’s going to be great to go back over there, and I’m just really excited to get out there against South Africa and hopefully come home with a win,’ said Warner, who received the Allan Border Medal for Australian cricketer of the year.
He admits, though, that despite all the challenges he faced during his suspension, where his wife had two miscarriages, he fully believed that he would be able to return to the Australian squad eventually.
‘I had no doubt that I had the capability of being back here again. It was obviously a lot of hard work and commitment to be able to put my hand back up for selection for one and go away and just do what I know best and that’s to try and score as many runs as I can in any competition I was playing in.’
Warner and Smith both made emphatic returns to the game last year with Warner hitting three centuries and three half-centuries during the World Cup to finish as the second-highest run-scorer of the competition, while Smith delivered a Man of the Series performance with the bat in the Ashes.
‘There was obviously a lot of work behind the scenes to reintegrate the three of us and I really appreciate the way that unfolded and the way we were reintegrated back into the team and into the fold, and that was by having net sessions as well at the Test matches, keeping our sharpness up against quality bowling, and I’m extremely grateful for that,’ Warner said.
Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa.
Australia T20 squad:
Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa.