David Warner and Steve Smith’s bans expire on March 29. Picture: AFP
David Warner and Steve Smith’s bans expire on March 29. Picture: AFP

Test teammates to decide on Smith and Warner return

STEVE Smith and David Warner will be thrown at the mercy of teammates before a decision is made on if and when they return to play for Australia.

Chief executive Kevin Roberts has revealed that Cricket Australia will take the extraordinary step of canvassing the feeling and attitude of the dressing room when it begins the delicate process of trying to reintegrate the sanctioned stars back into the team, most likely around next year's World Cup.

In the immediate aftermath of the ball-tampering crisis, the relationship between Smith and Warner appeared fractured and tensions between the pair and members of the bowling attack also spilled over as the sandpaper investigation was launched.

Smith and Warner have both denied a falling out, but while time may have healed some of the wounds, coach Justin Langer admitted earlier in the summer that key relationships within Australian cricket's "dysfunctional family" needed healing.

Roberts said Smith, Warner and the third banned player Cameron Bancroft would be asked to make a "commitment" to embracing the new team culture being led by Langer, Tim Paine and Aaron Finch, as CA looks to ratify a recommendation from the Longstaff Review that "character" become a key sel­ection criteria for all players.

David Warner and Steve Smith have denied a falling out between them. Picture: Getty Images
David Warner and Steve Smith have denied a falling out between them. Picture: Getty Images

However, Roberts admits the other side of the equation will be how fellow players "embrace" their former captain and vice-captain when the time comes.

"The same selection criteria that applies to all players will obviously apply to Steven and David in terms of when they're eligible for selection again," Roberts said.
"We'll be working with the sanctioned players and the leadership of the team to understand what will be important to the other players to prepare for the prospect of the suspended players being selected again.

"We're so comfortable with how the team is evolving in their performance and behaviour and I think the key is the integration into that approach.

"Provided that Steve and Dave embrace that approach as I'm sure they will, then I don't have concerns (over their specific relationship).

"It'll be important that Steve and Dave do make commitments to embrace this approach and it's clear as to how other players will embrace Steve and Dave if and when the time comes as well."

Roberts confirmed that the Cricket Australia board is currently deliberating over dates for a pre-World Cup one-day series against Pakistan and whether Smith and Warner would be considered for an immediate return when their bans expire on March 29.

It's understood the most likely scenario remains that CA may choose not to interrupt this series and instead allow the pair to honour their IPL commitments and focus on their possible reintegration for the World Cup.