'Hostile crowds in South Africa will bring out the best in David Warner and Steve Smith' - Josh Hazlewood

‘Hostile crowds in South Africa will bring out the best in David Warner and Steve Smith’ – Josh Hazlewood

Australia will kick-start their tour of South Africa with the 3-match T20I series which starts from February 21 in Johannesburg.

Steve Smith and David Warner (AFP / LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI)

Two years after enduring the nadir of their cricketing career where their reputation was ripped into tatters following the Newlands ball-tampering scandal, David Warner and Steve Smith will return to South Africa next week when Australia lock horns with the Proteas in three Twenty20 International followed by as many ODIs.

Warner and Smith have faced the hostility of the English crowd during last year’s World Cup and the succeeding Ashes series. But the duo thanks to their on-field performances with the bat- Warner in ODIs Smith, Well! Pretty much everywhere- managed to win over the fans to some extent.

The duo is expected to face the heat again from a hostile South African crowd but according to fast bowler Josh Hazlewood, both Smith and Warner will be up for the challenge and as it has happened in the past, adversity might well bring out the best in them.

“Think Steve and Dave have ticked off pretty much every box since coming back and this is just another one of those; don’t think it will faze them one bit. They probably play better when it’s like this, probably try and take as much heat as they can and keep the younger guys out of the spotlight. It’s nothing we haven’t experienced before; it’s quite a long time ago now and a lot of different players from that Test team,” Josh Hazlewood said as quoted by Cricbuzz.

He added: “They’ll probably try to take as much heat as they can actually, try to keep the young guys out of the spotlight. Think just join in and have a good time with them (crowd). Often when you do that, they’ll be on your side after half an hour. It is when you fight them it becomes quite abusive. Ride the storm and go along with it – that’s what’s worked best for me.”

Josh Hazlewood hails ‘match-winner’ David Warner for his mental strength

David Warner, in particular, is set to face the maximum heat from the South African crowd, considering he was involved in not one but two controversial incidents in 2018. Before the ball-tampering scandal, Warner was embroiled in a Stairway brawl with the current South African white-ball captain Quinton de Kock during the first Test, post which the crowd proceeded to mock the Australian by wearing the mask of his wife Candice Warner’s former boyfriend.

But Warner is in the form of his life. Since coming back from the scandal, he has churned out runs for fun (barring the Ashes) and was recently awarded the Alan Border Medal. Hazlewood lauded Warner’s mental strength and claimed that he is one of the biggest match-winner of the side.

“It says a lot [about him]. What it says is that when Davey has a good game we basically win the game. He’s a big match-winner in T20s, one-dayers or Tests. When he has a good game it sends us a long way towards winning the game,” said Hazlewood about the importance of Warner in the Australian setup.” Hazelwood reckoned.

Australia will kick-start their tour of South Africa with the 3-match T20I series which starts from February 21 in Johannesburg.

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