ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Langer in awe of Smith and Warner
Returning star batsmen have the Australia coach jubilant on the first day of training
Louis Cameron in London
19 May 2019, 09:49 AM AEST
Steve Smith took all of a few hours to leave his mark in the United Kingdom, as both he and his former deputy David Warner firm for Australia's World Cup opener.
Neither bowlers nor passing motorists were spared on Saturday as the Australians held their first training session since touching down in England at the Whitgift School in London's south.
An extraordinary inside-out six from Smith over third man off Pat Cummins sailed out of the school’s grounds and struck a passing vehicle during their centre-wicket training on the main oval, with the unfortunate driver grateful a small dint above her silver Volkswagen’s back wheel – centimetres from the window where her small child was sitting – was the only damage done.
Smith played another shot off Nathan Coulter-Nile that Langer said "was like watching Sachin (Tendulkar) bat".
The ex-captain is fresh off unbeaten knocks of 89 and 91 in warm-up games against New Zealand in Brisbane earlier this month, while Warner dominated his recent Indian Premier League stint with Sunrisers Hyderabad.
After their ball-tampering suspensions, the pair are set to be centre of attention in the coming weeks, as their anticipated returns to international cricket for Australia's first match against Afghanistan on June 1 near.
But coach Justin Langer says the pair just want to get back to the business of playing – so much so for Smith that he was shadow batting on the sands of Anzac Cove during the team's recent visit to Gallipoli.
"(I) watched Steve Smith batting against New Zealand in those three practice games, he's literally a master of the game, so it's nice to have him back," Langer told reporters.
"It's been hilarious for me, because whether on the Anzac Cove or in the lunch room or we're on the bus playing cards, he's just shadow batting the whole time.
"He loves batting – he's shadow batting on the sand, he's shadow batting in the shower – I’m not joking.
"Dave's got that look on his eye, he's really hungry, he's a great player as we all know, he's so dynamic, he brings so much energy, and that's what we ask from our players.
"They’ve had 12 months to have a good think about a mistake they and the team made. I'm sure they'll be better people for that."
Smith continues to have his elbow heavily strapped up to bat, but it's in the field where both he and Warner, also on the mend from elbow surgery, are more cautious.
At full fitness the pair are two of the most dynamic fielders Australia have ever had, as Smith showed with a one-handed hanger against the Kiwis recently.
But Langer concedes they may have to be patient for them to return to their respective peaks in the field.
"Steve’s in literally career best shape … and Dave Warner is always elite fit," said Langer. "In terms of their throwing they’re building it up.
"Where they’ve come from, from surgery, I’m really proud of them and they’re up and running.
"Are they going to throw like Andrew Symonds or Ricky Ponting? Probably not at the moment but they’re certainly working towards that."
As for the inevitable heckling and hostility from notoriously lively English crowds, Langer suggested it will be nothing this Australian team haven't experienced before.
"It may ramp up, it may heat up, but it won’t be any hotter than it was twelve months ago (after the ball-tampering scandal)," said Langer. "I’ve never seen anything like it, so the boys are very well prepared.
"They’ve paid a heavy price and we’re expecting always to come here and to face the fire and we’re ready for that.
"What we’ve got to understand is that they’re human beings as well. There’s not too many I’ve met in my life who like being booed or heckled or disliked.
"We’re going to have to care for them, we’re going to have to put an arm around them and make sure they’re going okay.
"What people say, whether it’s in the crowd or social media or wherever, there’s nothing they can do about that, they can’t control it.
"But what we can do is keep an eye on them and make sure they’re going OK as people as much as cricketers."
2019 World Cup
Australia's squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa
May 22: (warm-up) Australia v West Indies, Southampton
May 25: (warm-up) England v Australia, Southampton
May 27: (warm-up) Australia v Sri Lanka, Southampton
June 9: India v Australia, The Oval
June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE