Sydney: Banned Steve Smith and David Warner won’t be playing any of Australia’s upcoming Tests against India, but they are being quietly eased back into the fold to help their bowlers combat Virat Kohli.
The duo, once national captain and vice-captain respectively, were suspended from state and international cricket for 12 months over the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
Despite a run of dire results, Cricket Australia last week ruled out relaxing their bans after a push to do so by the Australian Cricketers’ Association.
But with batting maestro Kohli and dangerous opening pair Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan awaiting Australia in the first Test in Adelaide from December 6, they have been enlisted to help the pace attack prepare.
Warner was welcomed back on Sunday, spotted in the Sydney Cricket Ground nets facing Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins with coach Justin Langer intently watching on in the umpire’s position.
According to The Australian newspaper, he was also invited into the dressing room ahead of the team’s Twenty20 defeat to India on Sunday evening, where a masterful Kohli smashed 61 to ensure his team levelled the series 1-1.
Fellow pace spearhead Mitchell Starc said Smith had also been asked to help the bowlers get ready this week. “There’s talking to bowling coaches then there’s talking to the guys you’re bowling to. That’s a great opportunity to have him face us in our preparation leading up to the Tests,” Starc told the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday.
“It’ll be great to bowl to him (Smith) in the nets. He’s one of the best in the world, to even get his thoughts on how we’re tracking will always be good for us.”
Both Smith and Warner have been training with their New South Wales team while playing club cricket as they work their way back to fitness and wait for their bans to expire.