The Australian national cricket team coach, Justin Langer, says his players are happy to be back in South Africa almost two years since the ball-tampering scandal at Newlands in Cape Town. Opening batsmen, David Warner and Steve Smith, who were slapped with 12-month suspensions are in the team and expect a hostile reception from Protea fans.
However, Langer, maintains his players have been good ambassadors for their country on-and-off the pitch and will continue to be during matches against the Proteas.
Warner and Smith were sent home in 2018 for attempting to alter the ball with sandpaper during their match with the Proteas at the Newlands stadium in Cape Town. The rivalry between South Africa and Australia is always heated with some marred by controversy and at times unsportsmanlike behaviour.
However, Australian coach, Justin Langer, says his players have been conducting themselves well on-and-off the pitch and he expects them to continue to do so during their tour of South Africa.
“We playing really good cricket. The numbers will tell you that but also playing in great spirit and we are hopeful that we can continue to do so because that’s the spirit cricket should be played in and there’s absolutely no reason why we cannot continue like that,” says Langer.
Warner and Smith have served their suspensions and have been forgiven back at home. Their return to South Africa would have reminded the local cricket fans of the scandal that made international headlines and became known as Sandpaper gate. The two can expect a hostile reception from the South African cricket fans. Langer says his players know that South African fans are passionate but won’t focus much on that but on playing good cricket.
“There was a brilliant reintegration back into the team before they came back into the team. We are really proud of how they have let the bat do the talking, again great ambassadors off the field and hopefully, they will be looking forward to playing good cricket here as well,” says Langer.
Australia will be using the tour to fine-tune preparations for the T20 World Cup on home soil in October. The Proteas, who are in the rebuilding phase after last year’s disappointing World Cup, will also be using the tour to prepare for the tournament.
The Proteas earlier Monday announced the resignation of Faf Du Plessis as captain of the Test and T20 team. Du Plessis cited wanting to step back to allow a new generation of leaders space as the reason for his resignation.
Australian captain, Aaron Finch, who stepped into the shoes of Steve Smith as the Australian team captaincy, says Quinton De Kock will have an even bigger impact in the Proteas as a captain considering his outstanding record.
“Quinton obviously taking the captaincy being so dynamic at the top of the order you have to be wary of it his record is outstanding and Heinrich Klaasen who hasn’t played much international cricket has been impressive,” says Finch.
Australia and South Africa will play three Twenty20 matches and three ODIs beginning on Friday. Their T20 match on February 26th will mark the tourists’ first match at Newlands since the 2018 scandal.