ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019
Dates: 30 May-14 July
Live coverage: Ball-by-ball commentary on Test Match Special, plus text commentary, clips and highlights on the BBC Sport website.

Australia coach Justin Langer has asked fans not to boo Steve Smith and David Warner during the World Cup.

The batsmen recently returned from year-long bans for their part in the ball-tampering scandal and were jeered throughout the warm-up victory over England in Southampton last week.

Defending champions Australia start their campaign against Afghanistan in Bristol at 13:30 BST on Saturday.

“They made a mistake and paid a big price for it,” said Langer.

“The media talk about earning respect and it’s really important that people show respect as well.”

Smith and Warner were given a hostile reception at the Hampshire Bowl, with both booed at the start of their innings and after being dismissed, while former captain Smith was also booed after making 50 and again when reaching a fine century.

Sections of the crowd chanted “cheat” at both players and fans wore costumes referencing sandpaper.

Smith and Warner, along with Cameron Bancroft, were found to have played a role in using sandpaper to tamper with the ball against South Africa in March 2018.

“After the experience of Hampshire, we have a pretty good idea what to expect – we’ve talked about it a lot and we can put strategies in place,” said Langer.

“That said, when it happens it doesn’t make it any easier. They are human beings, that’s the truth – and that’s what I find the hardest.

“I’m a dad and a lot of the time the kids see it. You feel for them personally and they are going to have to have thick skins.

“But I’d be disappointed by any player being booed at any cricket ground, regardless of what country they play for. It’s never a good look when that happens.”

Australia captain Aaron Finch confirmed Warner will play against Afghanistan after overcoming a glute injury.

One spectator, dressed as a cricket ball, throws sandpaper at Glenn Maxwell during England's innings

Finch and Warner will open together, with Australia to choose between Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja to bat at three.

Afghanistan were thrashed by England in their second warm-up on Monday but impressed in beating Pakistan in their first warm-up earlier this month.

“They are a dangerous side – if you take your foot off the gas for a while, they will hurt you, and you still have to play at your absolute best to beat them,” said Finch.

“Winning their warm-up game against Pakistan, they played brilliantly. They have got a huge following, with support all over the world now, which is huge for cricket.”

‘Sri Lanka will be tough’

New Zealand, who were beaten by Australia in the 2015 final, begin their World Cup bid against Sri Lanka in Cardiff at 10:30 BST on Saturday.

The Black Caps have won seven of their past eight completed one-day internationals against Sri Lanka, including a 3-0 series win at home in January.

However, Kiwi captain Kane Williamson said: “I don’t know how much the past really counts as we come into a tournament.

“We know the Sri Lankan side is a little bit different to the one we played at home, but we have no doubt they’re a tough side.”

Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne (left) and New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson (right) speak at a pre-World Cup media conference

Following a poor run over the past two years, Sri Lanka dropped several established players for the World Cup and appointed Dimuth Karunaratne as captain after a four-year absence from the ODI side.

They are expected to struggle in the tournament and were comfortably beaten by Australia and South Africa in their two warm-up games, but Karunaratne said his side of “fresh faces” were determined to compete.

“We are trying to start again with this World Cup but we will be prepared really well,” he said.

“It’s not easy if you don’t know the players and they haven’t played a game for a long time. Even me, I came into the side after four years, so it’s not easy.

“But if you get a chance, you need to prove yourself. The new faces want to do well and they want to perform, to stay in the team – it’s a positive thing.

“In the recent past we couldn’t do much better, but we are now playing as a team.”


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