Qantas Tour of South Africa

Smith urges focus as he confirms XI

Australia to field same side in second Test against South Africa as Steve Smith urges his players to rise above off-field controversy

Sam Ferris, in Port Elizabeth

08 March 2018, 09:30 PM

Warner opens up as new CCTV vision emerges

In the midst of the David Warner-Quinton de Kock stairwell saga, Australia captain Steve Smith leapt at the chance to talk about some cricket and happily confirm his side is unchanged for the second Test in Port Elizabeth, starting on Friday.

For the third straight Test, Australia will field the same line-up – one that is undefeated – having produced a 118-run win in the first Test in Durban.

Australia have played six Tests at St George’s Park dating back to 1950 for three wins and three losses, but have played at the venue only twice since South Africa was readmitted to international cricket in 1991.

Twenty-one years ago, legendary gloveman Ian Healy hit a six to win a thrilling contest by two wickets, while four years ago Proteas spearhead Dale Steyn produced a mesmerising spell of reverse-swing bowling to deliver South Africa a whopping 231-run victory.

Warner cops ICC punishment

That loss in Port Elizabeth in 2014 was the first time since the SA's readmission that Australia have lost the second Test of a series in South Africa. Up to that point, the tourists had a flawless record of six wins from as many matches in the second match of a series against the Proteas abroad.

However, the lead-up to Friday's Test has been overshadowed by the stairwell altercation between Warner and de Kock that saw both players charged and fined by the International Cricket Council.

Warner was fined 75 per cent of his match fee and handed three demerit points to his disciplinary record, while de Kock was fined 25 per cent of his match fee and given one demerit point after he lost his appeal with match referee Jeff Crowe on Wednesday night.

Smith rallied his troops on Wednesday at Australia’s only full training session to make sure they were on task and focused to take on what's sure to be a fired-up Proteas outfit.

De Kock's 'personal' sledging out of line: Smith

"I pulled the guys together this morning, just the playing group and said 'let's not let these incidents overshadow the way we played and get in the way of the way we want to play in this series'," Smith said.

"It's about continuing to play a good, hard aggressive brand but knowing we don't want to cross the line, we want to stay within the spirit of the game and let cricket be the main thing on show.

A lot has been made of 'the line' – the invisible demarcation separating what is personal and not personal when it comes to sledging – after de Kock allegedly crossed it when he reportedly made a derogatory comment about Warner’s wife, Candice, to spark the stairwell altercation.

While Proteas coach Ottis Gibson has issues defining 'the line', Smith has no doubts about where it is and what is regarded as personal sledging on the field.

Proteas coach just wants to focus on cricket

And as skipper, Smith says the buck stops with him and he takes responsibility for the actions of his players.

"I think you know when you say something personal about someone," he said.

"I think it's reasonably obvious, and what Quinton said to Davey was certainly personal. There's no doubt about that.

"I'm pleased with Davey that he stuck his hand up, said he made a mistake and he could handle things better.

"He's accepted his charge and we'll move on from that.

First Test wrap: Aussies triumph in Durban duel

"As captain you take responsibility of your team and what's going on, so I do take responsibility for that.

"Whether I could have done anything to change the events of what happened in the last Test, I'm not sure, but I do take responsibility."

Smith and his counterpart Faf du Plessis will sit down with match referee Jeff Crowe on Thursday to ensure the action on and off the field is played within the spirit of the game.

"Something like this can certainly make some sparks for the rest of the series, but that's not the way I see it and I don't want the series to pan out that way," Smith said.

Proteas legend weighs in on stairway incident

"So, we just want to get back to playing good cricket and make sure we play them on skill and get the emotion out of it."

Australia XI: David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (c), Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood

Qantas tour of South Africa

South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn, AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada.

Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.

Warm-up match: Australia beat South Africa A by five wickets. Report, highlights

First Test Australia won by 118 runs. Scorecard

Second Test St George's Park, Port Elizabeth, March 9-13. Live coverage

Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26. Live coverage

Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3. Live coverage