Steve Smith insists he’s unconcerned by jeering from England fans after his excellent 116 helped Australia win their World Cup warm-up clash with England at Southampton.
Smith, who had scored 88 not out, 91 not out and 76 in his three previous visits to the crease against New Zealand and the West Indies, looked in great touch at the Ageas Bowl on Saturday.
The 29-year-old, speaking for the first time since rejoining the squad following a 12-month suspension, says he’s grown as a person following the ball tampering affair in South Africa.
But there was nothing different about the remarkable batting display which showed just how valuable he is to Australia, with no other player passing 50 in a score of 9-297.
Smith, like David Warner, was booed and had to endure chants of ‘cheat’ on his way out to bat from sections of the 11,500-strong crowd, but found it easy to blank out.
“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion and how they want to treat people,” Smith said.
“It’s water off a duck’s back to me and it doesn’t bother me.
“I try to black it out. They call it white noise I guess.
“When I’m out in the middle I don’t pay attention to the crowd or what they’re saying.
“I heard a few things as I went out to bat … but I was trying to keep my head down, move straight ahead and just do my job.
“Fortunately I was able to score a few runs for the team.”
Smith’s form is a huge boost for the defending champions seven days out from their tournament opener against Afghanistan.
He believes his enforced exile from the game has refreshed him mentally going in to a huge four months that culminates in the Ashes series.
“Not too many players have a year out of the game,” he said.
“Having performed at a high level for four to five years and to then have a year away has helped freshen men up and come back hungrier than ever.
“I’ve worked on a few different things and get fitter and hopefully I’ll have a good World Cup.”
Vice-captain Alex Carey said he felt the atmosphere at the game was not too hostile and that the team are braced for being abused by crowds for the whole of the next four months.
“We knew it was going to happen,” Carey said.
“The best way to answer is to get a hundred and Davey (Warner) got 40 as well.
“I think it adds to the game as well and we’re probably going to get that reception wherever we go.”
While Smith laid the platform for the win, it was the bowlers who sealed it with a disciplined display that kept England’s big hitters in check.
With Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins rested, Jason Behrendorff (2-51) and Kane Richardson (2-43) deputised superbly.
Marcus Stoinis also grabbed a wicket and bowled out the last over which produced two run-outs.
Spinners Adam Zampa (1-54) and Nathan Lyon (1-37) also bowled tidily with Jos Buttler (52) and James Vince (64) top scoring for the hosts.
Warner scored a composed 43 before holing out to his IPL opening partner Jonny Bairstow on the boundary.