England v Australia T20Is - Men's
Smith to miss crowds as Aussies take flight
Men's side heads to England with Steve Smith admitting it will be an adjustment to playing without crowds
23 August 2020, 03:31 PM AEST
Steve Smith will have to find motivation from within on Australia's upcoming limited-overs tour of England, suggesting he will in fact miss the heckles from English crowds that followed him around the country last year.
Twenty-one of Australia's elite cricketers said goodbye to their loved ones today as they boarded a charter flight for the United Kingdom to herald a new era of cricket during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Smith dominated on his last trip to England, scoring 774 runs in four Tests including twin tons in his Test return at Edgbaston where he was roundly jeered by the hostile home crowd.
It came after consistent boos during Australia's preceding ODI World Cup campaign in the UK.
"I do like batting there, unfortunately there's going to be no crowd there to egg me on and give me a bit more motivation," Smith said on Sunday at Sydney airport.
"I've watched a bit of the Tests England have played, and we know their white-ball cricket over the last few years has been exceptional, so it's going to be a good series."
With the landscape of Australia's domestic first-class and one-day competitions still unknown, the majority of the men's national squad will not be back in the country until November, after this year's rescheduled Indian Premier League.
Australia's players flew into Perth from ports around the country where the first order of business was a reunion. The team hasn't been together since March's Chappell-Hadlee ODI series with New Zealand was cancelled after one game in front of empty SCG stands.
The first Australian team to leave these shores since the pandemic began, the Australians – plus coaches and support staff – boarded a charter flight direct to the East Midlands. The squad will spend a few days in a hotel attached to Derby's cricket ground before a three-hour bus ride to Southampton's Rose Bowl and its associated hotel.
A series of T20 and 50-over practice games will be played there, before the world's top-ranked T20 team meets England in three T20 internationals at the venue.
The series will then shift to Old Trafford – another venue with a hotel attached – for three ODIs against the team crowned World Cup winner's after last year's tied final against New Zealand.
"I'm looking forward to getting back into it, obviously it's going to be a bit different than what we're used to being in a bubble and playing with no crowds," Smith said.
"That presents a challenge in itself, but one we're looking forward to."
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While the Aussie squad left en masse, there are already a handful of Australians plying their trade abroad: Shane Watson and Nathan Coulter-Nile are serving a seven-day quarantine in Dubai hotel rooms after arriving there for the IPL this weekend.
Queenslander Billy Stanlake will soon join them for another season with Sunrisers Hyderabad, while Chris Lynn and Chris Green will arrive after the Caribbean Premier League tournament.
Lynn and Green are joined by Ben Dunk and Fawad Ahmed in Trinidad where the entire CPL is being held in a bubble as strict biosecurity measures have become a fact of life for cricketers.
"It'll be interesting to see how long the bubble(s) lasts for, how long we're going to have to be in that," Smith said today.
"We're lucky to be able to go and play, we'll just do what we need to and play it day by day, stick together as a bunch and help each other out.
"I'm sure there will be tough moments for all the guys being away from their families for long periods of time."
Smith said the enforced break from cricket had left him mentally refreshed and "raring to go".
"I enjoyed it (no cricket) for a little bit, it was nice to take a break and put the tools down and just refresh myself mentally and physically and have a chance to have a bit of a pre-season," Smith said.
For the eight Australians on their way to England that are not involved in the IPL, the conditions attached to their quarantine on arrival home in mid-September have yet to be locked in.
Chief among the concerns will be the ability to train while serving their 14-day quarantine, a point especially pertinent to the fast bowlers who will seek to maintain their fitness.
2020 Tour of England
Australia's T20 and ODI squad: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Daniel Sams, Kane Richardson, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa
England squad: TBC
August 23: Fly from Perth to UK
Australia will play three T20 and one 50-over intra-squad practice games
September 4: 1st T20, The Rose Bowl, Southampton
September 6: 2nd T20, The Rose Bowl, Southampton
September 8: 3rd T20, The Rose Bowl, Southampton
September 11: 1st ODI, Old Trafford, Manchester
September 13: 2nd ODI, Old Trafford, Manchester
September 16: 3rd ODI, Old Trafford, Manchester