David Warner on Friday said that it felt “bizarre” to be playing England without a crowd following Australia’s two-run defeat by their archrivals in a Twenty20 international at Southampton that marked the tourists’ first competitive match in nearly six months.
All of England’s home fixtures this season are being played behind closed doors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s the first time I have been here [England] and not been abused, which is quite nice,” Warner said.
There were no fans present at the Ageas Bowl to cheer England on as the hosts — with Australia seemingly cruising to a victory target of 163 at 124-1 — hit back with a burst of four wickets for nine runs in 14 balls.
Warner was subjected to repeated jeering by the crowd during last year’s World Cup in England, following his part in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
The taunts from home fans only intensified as Warner managed just 95 runs in the subsequent drawn Ashes series, with the left-handed opener dismissed seven times in 10 innings by Stuart Broad.
Veteran paceman Broad no longer plays white-ball international cricket and Warner top-scored for Australia with a fine 58 on Friday.
Asked if the atmosphere had felt like an England-Australia match, Warner told reporters after stumps: “From a crowd perspective, no.”
“It was a bit bizarre [the lack of any spectators],” Warner added. “But we’re just grateful to be back and playing.”
The match was Australia’s first competitive match since they beat New Zealand in a one-day international in Sydney on March 13.
Warner and Australia captain Aaron Finch (46) put on 98 in 11 overs, with both openers lamenting the fact that neither of them finished the job as England went 1-0 up in a three-match series that continues today.
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