Steve Smith described the taunts he received from England fans as “water off a duck’s back” after making a match-winning century in Australia’s 12-run World Cup warm-up victory.
Smith and David Warner were facing their fiercest rivals for the first time since returning from year-long ball-tampering bans and, as expected, were not allowed to forget their roles in the sandpaper scandal.
Both batsmen were booed on their way to the crease at the Ageas Bowl and subjected to sporadic chants of “cheat, cheat, cheat” from sections of the crowd, an experience they can probably expect in varying degrees throughout the competition and the Ashes series which follows.
It should be stressed that the hostilities were never deafening, nor overtly offensive, and Smith even managed to coax some applause from sections of the crowd when he reached 50 and 100.
The fact that he finished with 116 in 102 balls – with eight fours and three sixes – was a fair indication that the heckling had not derailed him but he confirmed as much in his first media appearance since returning to the international fold.
“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion and how they want to treat people. It’s water off a duck’s back to me and it doesn’t bother me,” he said.
“I try to black it out. They call it ‘white noise’ I guess. When I’m out in the middle I don’t pay attention to the crowd or what they’re saying.
“I heard a few things as I went out to bat…but I was trying to keep my head down, move straight ahead and just do my job. Fortunately I was able to score a few runs for the team.”
Referring to his reintegration to the side alongside Warner, his former vice-captain at the time of the crisis in Cape Town, Smith added: “It’s like we never left, in a way.
“I know I’ve got the support of my team-mates on the balcony and that’s the most important thing.
“If I can make them proud and make Australians proud as much as I can, that’s my job.”
England’s stand-in captain Jos Buttler was suitably impressed by Smith’s efforts in the middle.
“He’s the same player. He was a class player 12 months ago and he still is. He hasn’t forgotten. He’s one of the world’s best batsmen.”
As for the subject of sledging, the mild-mannered and soft-spoken Buttler said: “I don’t think any of our guys get that stuck in. The guys just get on with playing cricket.”