Steve Smith and David Warner will be offered emotional support to get through the World Cup.
Steve Smith and David Warner will be offered emotional support to get through the World Cup.

Smith, Warner’s mental health a top priority

STEVE Smith and David Warner will be offered emotional support to help cope with four months of relentless crowd abuse in England that is set to begin in Southampton this week.

Australian coach Justin Langer moved to humanise Smith and Warner's imminent comebacks at the World Cup by pointing out it was critical to keep tabs on their mental health.

"What we've got to understand is that they're human beings as well," Langer said.

"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 ok.

 

"What we can do is keep an eye on them and make sure they're going ok as people as much as cricketers.

"It (crowd abuse) may heat up, but it won't be any hotter than it was 12 months ago, so the boys are well prepared. We're expecting to come here and to face the fire and we're ready for that."

Langer barked at his players to pretend Saturday's six-hour training session was a World Cup semi-final as they simulated different game scenarios on a centre wicket in Croydon, 19km south of London.

Smith then clubbed a Pat Cummins delivery straight over his head for six, with the ball flying out of the school ground and crashing into a moving car, leaving a small dent in the Volkswagen.

Australian players at a practice match near London.
Australian players at a practice match near London.

Mitchell Starc trapped captain Aaron Finch lbw while Jason Behrendorff had Warner caught behind as both openers fell cheaply.

Smith started the day with a 2km time trial and then grabbed Warner after training to spend 10 minutes practicing throwing overarm to him using his heavily strapped and sore right elbow.

Smith got off the mark in the match simulation with a beautiful cover drive off Nathan Coulter-Nile that reminded Langer of Sachin Tendulkar.

"He's (Smith) literally a master of the game, so it's nice to have him back," Langer said.

"It's been hilarious for me because whether on the Anzac Cove or in the lunch room or 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.

Steve Smith in action during training.
Steve Smith in action during training.

"Dave's got that look on his eye, he's really hungry. You watch Glenn Maxwell field or bowl or bat - he brings the energy. Dave Warner always brings energy to the contest."

Langer said he was "really proud" of Smith and Warner's recovery from elbow surgeries with Smith in the best physical shape of his life.

"Are they going to throw like Andrew Symonds or Ricky Ponting? Probably not at the moment but they're certainly working towards that," Langer said.

Australia has organised an unofficial warm-up match against the West Indies (Wednesday) because Langer is concerned his team isn't match-hardened.

Langer said "we'll keep playing like Australia because we've won four of the past five World Cups" despite England continuing to set new batting records.

PRACTICE GAMES

WEDNESDAY

Australia v West Indies, Southampton 7.30pm AEST

SATURDAY

England v Australia, Southampton 7.30pm AEST

MAY 27

Australia v Sri Lanka, Southampton 7.30pm AEST

News Corp Australia


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