South African crowds have so far been hospitable towards Steve Smith and David Warner. Image by AP PHOTO

cricket

Smith, Warner to face Cape Town demons

2020-02-25 17:33:40

Steve Smith and David Warner’s redemption is set to come full-circle when they return to the scene of their sandpaper nightmare.

Every city Australia has visited during the white-ball tour of South Africa has brought its own reminders of one of the sorriest chapters in the nation’s cricketing history.

But the T20 series-decider in Cape Town on Wednesday night (Thursday AM AEDT), Smith and Warner’s first visit to Newlands since the tumultuous 2018 Test series, looms as a significant final step in their rehabilitation.

Smith spoke of being in “a pretty dark space” upon returning to Australia in disgrace and he and Warner were forced to mend fractured relationships with teammates before returning to again scale the cricketing summit.

South African crowds have been overwhelmingly hospitable towards them so far during the family-friendly T20 series.

“I’ve pretty much been overwhelmed by the support we’ve had from the fans,” Warner said.

“The fans were just outstanding (in game two in Port Elizabeth), they were very respectful, didn’t cop anything on the fence.

“The past is the past and we’ve got to focus on what’s ahead.

“A series win means the world to us and that’s what this game is about.”

The Australian camp are also hoping the series-decider will provide an early taste of the heat that will come with hosting the T20 World Cup later this year.

Australia’s women had considerable expectations placed upon them before their shock opening-round World Cup loss to India and Aaron Finch’s side will face similar pressure at the men’s tournament in October.

“That’s the point, I assume, of these series, to try and emulate that going forward into a World Cup,” paceman Kane Richardson said.

“I know a week ago, England and South Africa were in that same position in the third game so it’s valuable experience for everyone. Just try and learn from it and win on Wednesday night.

“We obviously want to win every game and win every series but I think looking forward, the big picture is if we can get those chases right in a World Cup final or a semi or something like that, we’ll take the experience now.”

Australia have never bettered their runner-up finish at the T20 World Cup in 2010.

Richardson said the tourists hoped to take valuable lessons from a middle-order collapse in Port Elizabeth that cost them the chance to take out the series.