Sandpaper barbs, boos and vitriolic abuse will only serve to get the best out of Australia’s two batsmen in South Africa, according to Josh Hazlewood.
Steve Smith and David Warner depart for a limited-overs tour of South Africa on Friday, a trip that is certain to dredge up plenty of unpleasant memories.
It was in the Johannesburg team hotel that Smith and Warner’s unprecedented sanctions were handed down after the 2018 Cape Town cheating scandal erupted.
Smith’s tears at Sydney airport became symbolic of the saga, as did the sacked skipper’s chaotic police escort through Johannesburg airport.
So much has changed since; Smith and Warner served year-long bans then enjoyed dominant returns to finish second and first in Monday’s Allan Border medal count.
But the reputation of South African crowds remains largely the same.
England vice-captain Ben Stokes recently lost his cool at the Wanderers after what he termed “repeated abuse” from the crowd, publicly apologising for calling a spectator a “f****** four-eyed c***”.
Hazlewood suggested Smith and Warner are ready for anything, having proven their resilience throughout lats year’s four-month stint in England.
“Steve and Dave have ticked off pretty much every box since coming back. It’s just another one of those and I don’t think it’ll faze them one bit,” Hazlewood told reporters in Sydney.
“They probably play better when it’s like this.
“It’s nothing we haven’t experienced before … we’ll be fine.”
Smith silenced his Ashes hecklers with a mountain of runs to be named man of the series as Australia retained the urn in England for the first time since 2001, while Warner finished one run short of being the overall leading run-scorer in the preceding World Cup.
Warner endured a miserable Ashes campaign, but that had more to do with Stuart Broad than anything shouted from the stands.
Hazlewood suggested rather than teammates needing to shield the duo, the reverse could be true.
“They’ll probably try to take as much heat as they can actually, try to keep the young guys out of the spotlight,” he said.
The paceman, who was left out of the Twenty20 squad but will fly out soon for the ODI section of the tour, has his own simple plan for dealing with any crowd abuse.
“Get away from fine leg,” he quipped.
“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.
“It is when you fight them that it becomes to and fro, and quite abusive. Ride the storm and go along with it.”
The tour starts with a T20 in Johannesburg on February 21, while Australia return to the scene of their Newlands nightmare on February 26.