Ponting’s grim Smith, Warner warning
Ricky Ponting has warned Australia to be mentally prepared for a hostile reception like they've never seen at the World Cup especially if Steve Smith and David Warner are selected.
The series will be the first time Smith and Warner will return to England since the ball tampering scandal and local fans will be looking for a mental edge ahead of the Ashes series.
The Barmy Army targeted the pair back when the scandal erupted and they won't want to let them forget in a hurry.
Ponting said it could even "derail" the World Cup defence with fan hostility and intense media scrutiny to hit fever pitch.
The Aussie legend is a three-time World Cup winner and the most successful captain in the tournament's history and will be part of the coaching staff at the event.
"I don't think it is much of a challenge internally around the players," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"You'd like to think that those guys are having conversations now, so they're not leaving it to the last minute and just be exposed to this thing that could be derailing to a team.
"I'm sure this would have been talked about at a higher level for a long time - how do we integrate them back in? How do they fit in? How is it all going to be seamless?
"But the hardest part for those guys is going to be the public perception of us, especially in England.
"They're coming back into a World Cup in the UK - they shouldn't be expecting too many pats on the back over there.
"They're going to cop it everywhere they go. They've got to know that, they've got to accept that and understand that.
"The team needs to as well, because that could also be something that could be unsettling for a team."
Australia have played in England since the ball tampering scandal, in a six-game limited-overs tour of the UK when some fans brought cards with "4" and "6" printed on yellow sandpaper to games.
Australia lost the five-match series to England 5-0.
As captain, Ponting lost just two of 29 World Cup matches and said the secret to overcoming the hostility will be runs and wins.
"I think they are well equipped (to handle the scrutiny), but I think it could be a shock for them by the same token when they come back," Ponting said.
"They have to expect the absolute worst and then anything better than that is going to be a bonus for them. That would be the way I would approach it if I was them.
"But at the same time, the way they'll integrate themselves back in quickly and have some of the public helping them out, is for them to be scoring runs. If they're scoring runs and the Australian cricket team is winning, it'll be a whole lot easier.
"If it's the other way around and they're not scoring runs and the Australian team is losing, then it's going to be hard."
Smith and Warner are set to be eased back into the Australian set up during a small window following the end of their bans and the start of the IPL.
While there had been some confusion about why they would go to the UAE if they weren't playing, Australian legend Shane Warne said would be best for the pair not to play against Pakistan.
"I don't think Australia missed a trick there because they were only available for the last two games," he said.
"I think they're probably better off not being disrupted, settling into IPL, getting their form back into that form of the game. I think there are three other games against New Zealand after the Pakistan ones. There is plenty of time for Smith and Warner to play back in the Australian side before the World Cup."
As for scoring runs, Warne said the class of the Aussie stars would shine through on the field.
"I have no doubt whatsoever that Smith and Warner will be in World Cup side, they're class players," he said.
"If you think of the top five batsmen playing International cricket right now and before they were banned Smith and Warner would be in the top five probably with Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Kane Williamson.
"For Australia to have two of those and such class with great records and experience, there's no doubt they'll be in the World Cup side."
Warne has also backed Warner to be the player of the World Cup.
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