Dubai: Australia’s star batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner have joined the national squad that flew into Dubai after their shorter format series in India.
The duo, who were suspended for one year following the ball-tampering incident in South Africa, have two more weeks to go for their ban to come to an end.
The Australian team are here to play in a five-match One Day International series against Pakistan commencing from March 22 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, followed by matches in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Speaking about re-joining the team, former skipper Smith said: “It’s been great to be back around the group, they’ve been really welcoming again and it’s almost like we never left so everything is on the right track.”
Warner, the vice-captain of the team at the time of the ban, expressed almost similar view. “It’s been awesome, like we didn’t really leave. The boys have been really accepting of us coming in with open arms and a lot of big hugs and cuddles. It’s good to see the spirit they are in after a great series win in India.”
Smith and Warner could have played the last two one-day matches of the five match series against Pakistan as their ban ends on March 29. However, the Cricket Australia management felt that it is better for the duo to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) before returning to Australia in early May for a training camp in Brisbane.
The duo will fly to India for the IPL after a series of meetings with their team players and coaches. Warner expressed his delight over the changes in the team: “We’ve been out for 12 months there’s obviously been a big change which is great and it’s about accepting that and playing what our role should be in the team moving forward.”
Smith is hoping that everyone will strive towards putting Australia on top with a busy season ahead of them. “It’s just been going through the values that are instilled in the team at the moment, making sure we are on the right path looking forward to what’s coming up — a huge World Cup and an Ashes series, it’s a pretty exciting time ahead for the team so just making sure everyone is heading in the same direction. It’s been very beneficial and really good,” said Smith, who was on a race with India’s Virat Kohli in breaking records, before his ban.
Incidentally, Warner has announced he is in form by cracking a century in Sydney grade cricket last week. Smith, who was recovering from his elbow surgery, is yet to be in action.
Talking about the meetings that Smith and Warner had with their teammates in Dubai, Australian team coach Justin Langer said: “It is like two brothers coming back home. Brothers leave home for different reasons in families. So nice to have them back in there. They’ve been received really well. We had a good night together last night. It’s great to have them back in the team.”
Langer also feels that IPL will put both the batsman back on competitive mood. “The IPL will be a really important time for both because it gives them the opportunity to play some competitive cricket again, to hit a lot of balls, to get moving again, get the feel of the game. It will be about getting back into the rhythm of high class cricket and I’m sure they’ll get plenty out of that.”