Steve Smith's horror moment two years on from ball-tampering scandal

Steve Smith admits he had some horrible flashbacks returning to the Johannesburg hotel where his world came crashing down after confessing to ball-tampering.

But Smith says he's excited to be back in South Africa for the first time since his career low-point and believes people have largely moved on from the ugly saga.

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Australia are set to face South Africa in three T20 internationals beginning on Friday at the Wanderers, followed by three ODIs.

The tourists have set up camp at the same Johannesburg hotel where Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft arrived in disgrace after it was revealed they had plotted to tamper with the ball in the previous Test in Cape Town.

Steve Smith was mobbed when he arrived in Johannesburg in 2018. (Photo: GULSHAN KHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The trio met with then-Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland at the hotel, where Smith was told he had been banned for 12 months.

"Probably just walking into the hotel, just initially I was like 'last time I was here, it wasn't pretty'," Smith told reporters in Johannesburg.

"It wasn't the best time in my life. But I've moved on from that, learned a lot over the last two years and I'm moving forward.

"It's good to be back here playing and I'm looking forward to this series."

Smith had to endure further misery, including being marched through Johannesburg Airport under police escort and breaking down in a press conference on arrival in Sydney.

Steve Smith broke down in tears when he arrived back in Australia. (Image: PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)

Smith expects hostile fan reception

The former captain fully expects a hostile reception from South African fans notorious for targeting opposition players, particularly when Australia return to the scene of the crime at Newlands for next Wednesday's T20 series-finale.

But Smith said he hadn't had any awkward moments during the team's stay in Johannesburg.

"I've been to a few of the restaurants and people have been lovely," he said.

"Guys have come up and had some photos and things like that and been really nice. That's been good.

"It's been pretty normal to when I've been here previously, nothing really different."

Smith added that he had "a few little conversations here and there" during the IPL and last year's World Cup with several of the key South African players from the fiery 2018 series, and felt that there were no lingering bad feelings.

Smith and Warner were booed and jeered throughout England during the Ashes and World Cup, which coach Justin Langer suggested would be a "great dress rehearsal" for what they could expect in their return to South Africa.

But rather than being fuelled by the hostility, Smith - whose astounding performance in the Ashes paved the way for Australia to retain the urn - said it simply didn't register.

"I think Justin said something the other day, we had the dress rehearsal in England where there was a fair bit going on. But I honestly don't notice it," he said.

"Particularly when I'm batting, I don't really hear anything that's going on. I block it all out.

"Maybe a little bit when I'm fielding but then again, it's just words. It doesn't affect me. If people want to say things then go for it."

SMITH AND WARNER'S JOURNEY BACK TO SOUTH AFRICA:

* March 2018: Australian cricket goes into crisis mode when Cameron Bancroft is caught tampering with the ball during the third Test in Cape Town. Smith and Warner receive 12-month bans for their role in the premeditated plan. Smith is also stripped of the captaincy.

* June 2018: Smith and Warner return to cricket in the Global T20 Canada tournament.

* September 2018: The pair make their first cricketing appearances in Australia since being suspended, turning out for their respective grade cricket sides in NSW.

* March-April 2019: Smith and Warner are thrust back into the global spotlight when they return to action in the IPL. No longer banned, they are named in Australia's 15-man World Cup squad.

* June-July 2019: The duo make their long-anticipated return in Australia's opening group stage match against Afghanistan. Warner scores 89 not out and is named man of the match. He goes on to finish the tournament as Australia's leading run-scorer. Australia are knocked out in the semi-finals.

* August-September 2019: Smith and Warner line up for the first Ashes Test in Edgbaston and are booed relentlessly by English fans. Smith scores centuries in both innings to guide the tourists to a crushing victory. He goes on to plunder 774 runs for the series. A battling Warner is dismissed by Stuart Broad seven times but Australia retain the urn, with the series drawn 2-2.

* October 2019 - January 2020: Warner enjoys a spectacular summer across all formats that begins with a T20 century against Sri Lanka and culminates in an unbeaten 335 against Pakistan in the Adelaide Test. Smith has a rare quiet patch in the Tests but is a standout in an ODI tour of India.

* February 2020: Warner is named Australia's male cricketer of the year, taking out the Allan Border Medal ahead of second-placed Smith. The pair return to South Africa for the first time since the Cape Town saga to play three T20s and three ODIs, including a T20 at Newlands.