Returned Australian cricketers Steve Smith and David Warner ought to brace themselves for a barrage of abuse from England cricket fans at the World Cup and The Ashes.
“The Barmy Army have already done about eight or nine songs – I think David Warner might feature a fair bit in those,” legendary English all-rounder Sir Ian Botham said on Wednesday.
But Warner and Smith – and teammate Cameron Bancroft, who was also over the ball-tampering in Cape Town – are also coming under friendly fire. Beer company Foster’s – a famous Australian brand – has launched an ad showing two Down Under cricket fans offering advice to a Welsh hipster – all the while rubbing sandpaper on a cricket ball.
Warner and Smith will come face to face with British fans at an unofficial hit-out with the West Indies on Wednesday night (AEST).
On Saturday, they will face the host nation and world No.1 side at a World Cup warm-up match in Southampton on Saturday – in front of an expected crowd of more than 10,000. Current England all-rounder Moeen Ali called on fans to give the pair a fair go.
“I really hope they don’t get too much stick,” Moeen said in The Guardian.
“I want them to enjoy the series. If you have to, keep it funny, not personal.
But Botham said he had no sympathy for Smith, Warner or Bancroft following the South African ball-tampering.
The trio served suspensions for their roles in the incident 16 months ago.
“I hate cheating and that is what they did, they cheated,” Botham said.
“One of the players (Bancroft) captains my county (Durham) and I’ll have to show him that Foster’s advert where the Aussie lads are taking phone calls for advice while rubbing a ball with sandpaper.”
Warner, Bancroft and Smith were the only players punished over the incident. But Botham claimed there was no way the Australian bowling attack wouldn’t have been aware the ball was doctored.
“As a bowler you know everything about the ball and what shape it is in,” he said.
“There is not a chance in the world that the bowlers in that team wouldn’t have known there had been sandpaper rubbed on that ball.”
Botham will end his 25-year run with Sky Sports‘ commentary team after The Ashes.
However, he’s fully confident England will regain The Ashes urn this year, and even channelled the spirit of Glenn McGrath by predicting a whitewash for Joe Root’s side.
“I would say five-nil, for Glenn McGrath I’d even say six-nil even though there are only five games,” he said.
“I think England will win because they have a home advantage and I think the Australian boys will be copping it a fair bit.”
Australia kicks off its World Cup campaign against Afghanistan on June 1.