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‘Warner, Smith had great dress rehearsal for SA tour in Eng’

Melbourne, Feb 18 (IANS) Australia head coach Justin Langer believes his team had a great “dress rehearsal for South Africa” when they played against England in their own backyard last year.

Australia would be playing their first-ever game in South Africa on Friday since the infamous 2018 Sandpaper Gate controversy which saw Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft being suspended by Cricket Australia.

During the 2019 World Cup and the subsequent Ashes in England, both Warner and Smith received hostile reception from the fans and were treated to lot of jeering.

“There was a brilliant reintegration back into the team, before they came back into the team 12 months ago or whatever it was — eight months ago. There was a lot of really good work done there, and we’ve had a great dress rehearsal for South Africa from England,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Langer as saying.

“That was a tough tour for those two guys and I was really proud of the way they let their bats do the talking and again, they have been great ambassadors off the field. So hopefully they’ll be looking forward to getting back here and playing great cricket as well,” he added.

Meanwhile, Australia limited-overs skipper Aaron Finch believes the duo of Smith and Warner would use the hostile reception from the fans as a motivation to perform well against the Proteas.

“South African fans are very passionate. Regardless of whether you’re playing in Australia or over here or even in ICC tournaments, the crowds are very vocal,” Finch said.

“Our guys are expecting that and David loves that banter coming from the crowd. It gets him into the game. Regardless of what I think, the crowds are going to act however they please — I don’t think it’s going to make much difference to us. We are going to play cricket with a smile on our face, and represent Australia very proudly,” he added.

South Africa and Australia will play three T20Is and as many ODIs.

–IANS

aak/bbh

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