Australia is set to play South Africa, their first meeting after the controversial series in 2018. Australia Series Preview-
After almost 2 years since the Sandpapergate scandal, Australia is coming back to South Africa to play a three-match Twenty20 International series (T20I) and three One Day Internationals (ODI) against the Proteas.
The incident in question happened during Australia’s 3rd Test against South Africa in March of 2018. Cameron Bancroft was caught by cameras trying to rough up a ball using sandpaper. Controversial players David Warner and former captain Steve Smith who were the players found guilty are in the lineup and are set to play in the series. Warner and Smith were handed 12-month bans following Sandpaper gate alongside Bancroft who was served a 6-month ban.
Returning to South Africa after almost two years after the controversy, Warner expects heightened emotions and a hostile environment during the tour, ‘For me personally it won’t be hard at all. I just want to go there and I’ve got a job to do and that’s to score runs and win games for Australia and put us in a good position. Obviously, it’s going to be very hostile’. Warner, in fact, faced a similar situation in England saying, ‘I actually enjoyed that and played along with it’.
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South Africa just finished a superb series against England which they narrowly lost. Now, South Africa is looking to bounce back against Australia on the Proteas’ home soil.
The Proteas are looking to ride the momentum of their near-victory against England. Alongside the usual suspects, Heinrich Klaasen and Dwaine Pretorius, Lungi Ngidi will be the prime bowler that Australia would have to be wary of. His performance against England was well-received and he is looking to stay in-form, after sitting out the last 3 months because of an injury.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief, Jacques Faul has asked the South African fans to not be too hostile with the Australian side, ‘I would plead with South African fans to respect our opponents and don’t go overboard with these things, it’s competitive on the field, and we don’t need it. Sport, in general, doesn’t need that behaviour’.
Unfortunately, Australian star batsman, Glenn Maxwell will not join the team on the tour because of elbow surgery. ‘Representing Australia is the highest honour in cricket and something I cherish. I was not confident that I could perform at an international level with my elbow in its current state and have decided to undergo surgery straight away to fix the issue’, Maxwell said about his absence.
The South African side is favoured to win over Australia, this can be due to the form that the Proteas are in at the moment, with their near-victory against England. The tour will begin on February 21 at New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg.