Australia ready for hostile return to SA in first T20 in Johannesburg

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Australia coach Justin Langer insists that one bad incident does not taint their love for South Africa and playing against the Proteas as they prepare to face-off in the first of three Twenty20 internationals against the host in Johannesburg on Friday night.

The last time the Aussies were in the country was two years ago when they were involved in one of cricket’s biggest scandals – the ball-tampering affair.

Steve Smith was captain at the time and he and David Warner, who are both on the tour, were subsequently banned for a year, but are now back and Langer says they are all keen to put the past behind them.

Friday night’s clash at the Wanderers is the first in a six-match tour that also includes three one-day internationals that begin next weekend.

For now, though, the focus is on 20-over cricket and Warner, one of the culprits in the sandpaper affair that disgraced Australian cricket, does not expect too many heated exchanges on the field.

The star opener, also had a run-in with South Africa’s new captain Quinton de Kock on that last tour here in 2018, but he says he expects both team to keep the focus on cricket, especially with the World Twenty20 on the horizon.

Warner only returned to the Australia fold in the middle of last year ahead of the World Cup following his ban from the game.

But he has enjoyed a fair amount of success since then, scoring big runs in all formats. His country will host the T20 World Cup in October and November and the 33-year-old says they are working hard towards finalising plans for that competition.

– Report by Thahir Asmal