Steve Smith and David Warner ready to return to South Africa two years after ball-tampering scandal
Last Updated: 15/02/20 8:47am
Australia's Steve Smith and David Warner are returning to South Africa for the first time since the ball-tampering scandal.
The pair, who served 12-month bans for their parts in the affair, are part of the Australia squad that is due to contest three T20s and three ODIs against the Proteas.
Smith and Warner received a hostile reception from some England supporters during last summer's World Cup and Ashes - a series in which Warner averaged just 9.50 in 10 innings and Smith was forced to retire with concussion after being hit on the helmet by paceman Jofra Archer.
Team-mate Josh Hazlewood said that neither player will be fazed one bit should they receive similar treatment from crowds in South Africa.
"Steve and Dave have ticked off pretty much every box since coming back," said the seamer. "It's just another one of those and I don't think it'll faze them one bit.
"They probably play better when it's like this. It's nothing we haven't experienced before. We'll be fine. They'll probably try to take as much heat as they can actually, try to keep the young guys out of the spotlight."
Smith returned to Australia's ranks for the final Test of the Ashes as Tim Paine's side retained the urn, while earlier this week Warner received the Allan Border Medal, which is awarded to Australia's top cricketer in 2019.
Hazlewood said Australia's players are determined to win South African fans over.
"Join in and try to have a good time with them. Often when you do that, they end up being on your side," he said. "It is when you fight them that it becomes to and fro, and quite abusive. Ride the storm, go along with it."
Interim South Africa chief executive, Jacques Faul, has urged home fans to respect Warner and Smith and not "embarrass" the board with poor behaviour.
Animosity between Warner and Quinton de Kock spilled over into a heated stairwell confrontation during the first Test in Durban in 2018, with Warner and his wife, Candice, subsequently targeted by the crowds,
"I would plead with South African fans to respect our opponents and don't go overboard with these things," Faul told Fairfax media. "It's competitive on the field, and we don't need it.
"Sport in general doesn't need that behaviour. We have a very strict policy in terms of fan behaviour and we will evacuate people but the damage will have been done.
"What happened last time (in South Africa), the behaviour was unfortunate. It's embarrassing when it happens - for the stadium and the national federations."
Watch the first T20I between South Africa and Australia live on Sky Sports Cricket from 4pm on Friday.