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Cricket union keen to avoid player burnout

By AAP Newswire

Having witnessed a burnt-out David Warner's implosion during Australia's last visit to South Africa, cricketers union boss Alistair Nicholson is looking to ensure players get sufficient breaks in an increasingly crowded schedule.

Nicholson has joined players and staff in Johannesburg to provide support for the start of the white-ball tour, where hostile crowds are expected to greet the tourists.

The series marks Warner and Steve Smith's first visit to South Africa since the ball-tampering scandal that cast Australian cricket into turmoil in 2018.

Warner had a gruelling summer that culminated in captaining Australia's T20 side to a series victory in New Zealand days before he arrived in Durban for the first Test of that series.

The tone was set for the tour when Warner squared off with South African rival Quinton de Kock in a stairwell on day four, a confrontation sparked by a highly personal and derogatory comment about Warner's wife Candice.

Warner has arrived in South Africa this time around feeling mentally refreshed, having skipped the tail end of the Big Bash to charge his batteries - a situation in direct contrast to when he arrived in South Africa last time around.

"I played literally every game the whole year. I had no break at all," Warner told reporters in Johannesburg

"And obviously flying from New Zealand, coming over here leading into a Test match with four days, five days to prepare - literally only just got over the jet lag - it's quite challenging.

"But coming off the summer that I've had and obviously with the team, I feel good and I know the boys feel good."

Nicholson said the Australian Cricketers Association had worked closely with Cricket Australia to ensure players weren't being pushed to their limits in an increasingly crowded schedule.

"The schedule is complicated, and definitely for guys that are three-format players. I think some of the support with Cricket Australia we're putting around players is very conscious of that," Nicholson told AAP.

"And I do think at that time both (Warner) and Steve had played a lot of cricket over five years, played a lot of important cricket.

"Now we've got a very balanced team, very good bowlers and batters that are now having a more balanced input, so I think that will help as well."

Nicholson said the heated nature of South Africa's recent Test series against England, during which superstar allrounder Ben Stokes lashed out at an abusive fan, had confirmed his decision to link up with players during this tour.

He had nothing but admiration for Warner after the opener capped off a superb international comeback by winning the Allan Border Medal.

"It was a fantastic testament to how competitive and really disciplined he was," Nicholson said.