Star Australia batsman Steve Smith says he is happy to be back in South Africa and wants to put the past behind him when they face the Proteas in a six-match tour that starts on Friday.
The last time the 30-year-old addressed the media in this country was two years ago when he was captain and he had to deal with heavy questioning in the midst of one of cricket’s biggest scandals – the ball-tampering affair that rocked Australian sport.
Smith has already been playing for nine months after serving a year-long ban and he is now looking forward to a return in SA.
Smith accepts that he may receive a hostile reception from the South African crowds when he takes to the field in the coming weeks. Australia’s first assignment against South Africa is a Twenty20 international at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Friday night.
They will then move to Paarl for the second game, before concluding the 20-over leg of a trip with a showdown at Newlands in Cape Town, where Smith’s world fell apart back in 2018. The star batsman says fans are entitled to say what they like.
Although Smith has his own issues to deal with South Africa appear to have plenty more. They are just coming off a forgettable home tour against England in which they lost the Test, one-day and T20 series to the tourists.
This time they will be hoping to bounce back, first in the 20-over format, before also improving in the three 50-over games. Whatever happens, Smith concedes that playing the Proteas is always tough.
– Report by Thahir Asmal