Days before the completion of their 12-month ban, Steve Smith and David Warner met up with the Australian cricket team in UAE. The former captain and the vice-captain have been welcomed back into the team with ‘open arms’ as they said it was like they’d never left. The ban imposed on the two will came to an end on March 28.
There were speculations that Australia would include both the stars in the squad for the upcoming five-match series against Pakistan in UAE. Both the players were eligible for the last two ODIs, set to be played on March 29 and 31. However, the Australian team-management decided otherwise and stated that the best option for the players to return to high-level cricket is through the Indian Premier League.
Warner and Smith recently underwent elbow surgery after suffering injuries in the Bangladesh Premier League. They will be also making a comeback in the IPL after missing the last edition in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal. Warner is set to play for Sunrisers Hyderabad while Smith will ply his trade for Rajasthan Royals.
However, before they could fly to India, head coach Justin Langer invited the former leaders as part of their re-integration after the scandal in South Africa.
The two spent a little over 24 hours with the team before flying to India. With both the players likely to play the World Cup, the re-integration process is seen as the one which would give the team the opportunity to get accustomed to the new environment. And it looked the re-integration process has gone well. Both Warner and Smith sounded delighted after re-joining the team while Langer said the team was happy to welcome the two.
“It’s been awesome, like we didn’t really leave,” David Warner said. “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.”
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) March 17, 2019
On the other hand, Steve 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.”
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) March 16, 2019
Coach Langer was typically warm in his acceptance of the former leaders, calling them brothers as he welcomed them.
“It’s great to have them back in the team. It’s like two brothers coming home,” Langer said.
“They have been received really well, we had a good night together last night and had some great meetings today so it’s been really positive,” he added.
Meanwhile, the twelfth edition of the IPL will get underway on March 23. Both Smith and Warner will be desperate to hit the ground running to push their claims for World Cup spots.