MANCHESTER: Australia coach Justin Langer believes Steve Smith and David Warner will be under no extra pressure when they face South Africa for the first time since both batsmen were given 12-month bans for ball-tampering.
Then-captain Smith and Warner, his deputy, were hit with year-long bans by Cricket Australia for their roles in an extraordinary incident during a Test in Cape Town that saw team-mate Cameron Bancroft indulge in a brazen breach of the rules by applying sandpaper to the ball.
Both Smith and Warner have been subjected to repeated booing by English crowds during the World Cup – the pair’s first major international tournament since their suspensions ended.
“They got a good taste of what they were going to expect from the moment we turned up in England,” Langer told reporters at Old Trafford on Thursday.
“This game is significant for a lot of our players, but we’ve just got to take all the emotion out of it.”
Reigning champions Australia are already through to the semi-finals but Saturday’s match could determine whether they finish top of the standings and so avoid a last-four clash against resurgent hosts England.
“We’re here to take the two points, keep the winning momentum going forward and for those guys this is just another exciting game of World Cup cricket,” said Langer.
Warner, one of the leading run-scorers at the World Cup, became a father again when his wife gave birth in London to the couple’s third child last weekend, and Langer was delighted with the form of both his star batsmen.
“They’re cherishing playing cricket for Australia again, they’re both playing really well,” he said.
Australia, for all they have won a record five World Cups, were not among the favorites coming into this edition, with some pundits arguing their “old-fashioned” approach was ill-suited to modern one-day internationals where scores of around 400 are increasingly commonplace.