A little over two years after Steve Smith and David Warner were involved in one of cricket’s most controversial scandals, the duo returns to Newlands, Cape Town, where Australia take on South Africa in the decider – third T20I on Wednesday. Also Read - I Have Imbibed Steve Smith's Art of Leaving Balls: Riyan Parag
Smith and Warner, then captain and vice-captain respectively, admitted to have tampered with the ball during the third Test between Australia and South Africa, giving birth to the infamous ball tampering scandal. Smith and Warner served their 12-month long bans before returning ahead of last year’s World Cup but have faced criticism across various venues for their act. Also Read - David Warner Copies Ravindra Jadeja's Sword-Celebration in Throwback Video, Asks Fans For Verdict | WATCH
Nearly 24 months later, Smith and Warner have played in front of packed crowd at Wanderers, Johannesburg and St. George’s Park in Port Elizabeth but have not faced any episode yet. That said, how the crowd behaves in Newlands, remains to be seen although Warner has been pretty pleased with the crowd’s reception in the first two T20Is. Also Read - IPL 2020: Robin Uthappa Picks Gautam Gambhir as Best Captain to Play Under, Heaps Rich Praise on 'Good Leader' Rohit Sharma
“We’ve been pretty much overwhelmed by the support we’ve had from the fans. Port Elizabeth was outstanding. They were very respectful. I didn’t cop anything (fielding) on the fence. The kids were yelling out for autographs and we obliged. It was a great atmosphere,” Warner said.
“Being back in Cape Town, it is one of the most picturesque grounds in the world, the ground’s always in good condition, we’ve had success here as a team and me as an individual. I’m chomping at the bit to go out there and share it with the rest of the guys. There’s never any extra motivation, it’s more for me to do my job. The past is the past and we’ve got to focus on what’s ahead, which is this game in a couple of days’ time. ”
All is being done to ensure there is proper conduct from the crowd and Clifford Dodgen, the Newlands stadium manager, is not anticipating any problems. Dodgen said security guards would accompany players leaving or entering the field to prevent a recurrence of the Warner incident in 2018.
“We’ve got maximum security, with over 200 private security personnel as well as police and metro police,” said Dodgen. We will have plain clothes people in the crowd and if there is any serious misbehaviour the people responsible will be asked to leave the ground.”
As for Smith, the former Australia captain plans to “smile and laugh and play along and have fun,” as he returned to South Africa. “They are hostile at the best of times here,” Smith said last week said.
“It doesn’t bother me too much. Like Justin (Langer) said we had the dress rehearsal in England where there was a fair bit going on but I honestly don’t notice it, particularly when I am batting. I don’t really hear anything that’s going on and I block it all out. Maybe a little bit when I am fielding. But then again it’s just words, it doesn’t affect me. I think I will be doing some outfielding so I’m looking forward to it. I will smile and laugh and play along and have fun.”