Steve Smith expecting tough return to cricket in England

Steve Smith expecting tough return to cricket in England
Toronto Nationals Steve Smith plays in the first inning against Vancouver Knights in the Global T-20 Canada Cricket match in King City, Ont. on Thursday June 28, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Thornhill

MELBOURNE, Australia: Banned former Australia cricket captain Steve Smith says he hopes to be part of the country’s World Cup and Ashes teams in England this summer and that he expects a hostile reaction from English spectators.

Smith spoke to the media on Friday for the first time in Australia since repeatedly breaking down upon arrival at Sydney airport in March from South Africa.

Smith was stripped of his role at test captain and suspended from the team for 12 months along with David Warner for his part in allowing Cameron Bancroft to ball-tamper with a piece of sandpaper during a test match in Cape Town. Bancroft was banned for nine months.

Smith’s ban ends in April but he is barred from holding a leadership position until 2020 as part of Cricket Australia’s response to the ball-tampering scandal.

The expectation is that Smith will be part of Australia’s World Cup and Ashes teams, meaning a fourth-month stint in England. The World Cup starts in late May and the first Ashes test begins on Aug. 1 at Edgbaston.

“No doubt the English crowds will be incredibly hostile. I’m ready for that if it happens,” Smith said Friday. “One thing that I’ve always done pretty well when I’m playing is blocking out exterior noise.

“No doubt the Barmy Army are loud and you can’t block out as such, but it’s about staying in your own mind and not letting distractions take you over.”

Smith appeared in a television commercial for an Australian mobile phone company which appeared for the first time on Thursday.

“Everything I dreamed of, everything I was a part of was just falling to pieces,” Smith said in the commercial. “I was in a pretty dark space. It was just about being up front and honest and taking responsibility. I’ve certainly had some difficult days.”