Smith, Warner must ride the storm in SA, says Hazlewood

UNFAZED STAR: Australia’s David Warner will participate in a limited overs tour of SA
UNFAZED STAR: Australia’s David Warner will participate in a limited overs tour of SA
Image: SIPHIWE SIBEKO/REUTERS

Steve Smith and David Warner will be ready for whatever South African crowds throw at them when the Australia batsmen return to the nation two years after the ball-tampering scandal, paceman Josh Hazlewood has said.

The pair will fly out with the Australia squad on Friday for a limited overs tour.

This will be their first visit to SA since serving 12-month bans for their parts in the tampering plot during a Cape Town Test.

The pair were jeered relentlessly by English crowds during last year’s one-day World Cup and the following Ashes series, but Hazlewood said they would be unfazed by more hostility.

“Steve and Dave have ticked off pretty much every box since coming back,” Hazlewood said yesterday.

“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.”

Both Smith and Warner have thrived since returning to the national fold after their bans expired last March.

Smith played a leading role in Australia’s retention of the Ashes while Warner was awarded the Allan Border Medal for the third time on Monday as Australia’s top cricketer in 2019.

Australian  media have reported that the head of the national players’ union will tour with the side in SA to offer extra support for the players.

Hazlewood said Smith and Warner would not need to be shielded.

“They’ll probably try to take as much heat as they can actually, try to keep the young guys out of the spotlight,” the paceman said.

Hazlewood said engaging positively with fans was the best way to defuse them.

“Join in and try to have a good time with them.

“Often when you do that, they end up being on your side after a couple of overs,” he said.

“It is when you fight them that it becomes to and fro, and quite abusive. Ride the storm and go along with it.”

Meanwhile,  Matt Renshaw, once tipped as a long-term fix for Australia’s opening batting problems, is taking a break from cricket after being dropped by Queensland ahead of the resumption of the Sheffield Shield season.

The 23-year-old left-hander has failed to score a century in Australia’s domestic first-class competition since playing the last of his 11 tests in 2018.

“As part of our usual review process of player performance, our coaching and support staff spent time with Matthew this week and they all came to the conclusion that he would benefit from some time away from cricket,” Queensland performance boss Bennett King said.

“We’re confident Matthew will benefit from a break from the game to freshen up, and look forward to working with him once he is ready to resume playing.”

Renshaw had been expected to be named in a Cricket Australia (CA) XI to play the England Lions development squad in a four-day game in Hobart this week but he told selectors he had decided to step away from the game, CA’s website (cricket.com.au) said.

Renshaw made his Test debut at 20 against SA in 2016 and scored 184 against Pakistan in his fourth Test, an Australian record for a player of his age. — Reuters

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