Why CA is confident on Smith, Warner returns
Personal meetings with Steve Smith and David Warner have given Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts confidence the pair will live up to the national team's new standards when their year-long suspensions end on Friday.
Asked on Thursday if he believed Smith and Warner had fully accepted the gravity of what they did and whether they understood the need to change, Roberts was adamant the pair, and Cameron Bancroft, had "grown" during their suspensions.
Roberts, who spoke to both Smith and Warner earlier this month in Sydney, said the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa, one year ago, was a "huge upheaval" for the game, and the only moment he hadn't been proud to be involved in cricket.
But Roberts was confident a carefully managed reintegration program for Smith and Warner, which included a meeting with players in Dubai earlier this month, would ensure the "harmony" being created in the team, and Australian cricket, would continue.
"I am only impressed with all three of the sanctioned players in terms of what they have done over the last 12 months and how they have grown, all in different ways, different directions, different circumstances," he said at the Melbourne Press Club.
"I wasn't in Dubai, but those conversations went well. The events of last year were a huge upheaval, and took a huge emotional toll on people inside cricket.
"A meeting in Dubai doesn't mean everything is fixed and on we go, but what it does mean is a really positive step in bringing all of those players together and making sure any remaining issues can be addressed."
Roberts was adamant the investigation in the scandal was "fit for purpose" despite extraordinary claims from former Test skipper Mark Taylor, who was on the CA board, that it wasn't broad enough.
The CA boss also said there was "no evidence" to support a suggestion from former Test keeper Ian Healy that the Australian players had been tampering with the ball before that infamous match in Cape Town.
"All the evidence we have suggests that was the first time sandpaper had come out," he said.
"We don't have any suggestion from either the ICC match officials, or broadcaster footage or players, CA staff, no-one has made any allegations of any other inappropriate goings on before that.
"We addressed the Cape Town issue. Over recent months we have also made a strong point of reminding players, all staff, all player agents and other people in the cricket community that if they have any concerns about ball tampering or any integrity issue, we have invited them to report that.
"We haven't had any such reports and we won't jump at shadows. But if anyone does report any concerns … we are serious about addressing that."
Smith and Warner are expected to be included in the 15-man Australian squad for the World Cup, which has to be named before April 23. They will then official re-join the team for a series of warm-up games against New Zealand in Brisbane in May.