Australia bracing for a hostile reception against SA at the Bullring
Despite the hostile reception they are likely to get at the Wanderers on Friday night‚ Australia captain Aaron Finch has vowed that they will play with a smile on their face and represent their country with pride.
The visitors play SA in the first T20 international at the Bullring and the tourists are expecting verbal taunts from the terraces from locals desperate to remind them of the sandpaper scandal that enveloped the Aussie team on their last visit to this shores.
The fallout from that crisis meant that Steve Smith had to vacate the captaincy while David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were also censured for their part in the scandal.
Warner and Smith are in the team set for duty on Friday and captain Finch believes the players are prepared for what’s heading their way.
“South African fans are very passionate‚ regardless of where they are. They are very vocal‚” said Finch after a lengthy Australian practice on Monday.
“Our guys are expecting that. David loves that banter that comes from the ground and it sort of gets him into the game.
“Regardless of what I think the crowd will act whatever way they please. I don’t think it is going to make much difference to us.”
Finch said he has relied on the counsel of Warner and Smith throughout his captaincy and that they remain key players in the team.
Coach Justin Langer said Smith and Warner’s reintegration back into the team after they had served their bans had been brilliant.
“There was a lot of really good work done then. We’ve had a great dress rehearsal for South Africa in England.
"It was a tough tour for those two guys and I was really proud of the way they let their bat do the talking‚” said Langer about the tour that included the drawn Ashes series.
Langer dead batted the notion his team may harbour some apprehension coming to South Africa.
“No‚ no. Not at all‚" he said.
"We love coming to South Africa. We’ve had so many good memories for so long. We had a very hard tour last time.
"The way our guys have moved on has given us a great opportunity to reassess where we are in Australian cricket.
"We talked about making Australians proud of us again and earning back respect not just from the Australian public and past players but also across the world. Hopefully we have shown that over the last 18 months.
“The guys are in a really good place and they’ve worked hard. They have been great ambassadors for Australian cricket‚” said Langer.
The coach has mixed emotions about being back at the Wanderers.
“This was very bitter-sweet personally.
"It was my 100th Test match and I was knocked out with the first ball. I dreamed about playing 100 Tests for Australia‚ came here and I can’t remember any of it.
“It is a brilliant place to play. It reminds of the Waca a bit actually. The ground is like carpet which is a great credit to the groundsman and it used to be a fast bouncy wicket. We’ve seen some amazing games here.”