Steve Smith said it was like he and David Warner never left. Picture: Getty
Steve Smith said it was like he and David Warner never left. Picture: Getty

‘Like we never left’: Smith, Warner welcomed back

Suspended pair Steve Smith and David Warner have been welcomed back by the Australia squad one week before their bans are set to expire, declaring it was like they'd never left.

Smith and Warner met up with the squad in Dubai following Australia's historic ODI series win in India.

The banned former leaders flew in for meetings with players and coaches.

"It's been great to be back around the group, they've been really welcoming again and it's almost like we never left," Smith said.

"Everything is on the right track."

Australian cricket has gone through a significant period of change since the ball tampering scandal in South Africa, with an overhaul of the culture within the men's national side a key focus.

Smith and Warner were included in meetings aimed at educating and instilling the new behaviours and values expected of them.

"It's been going through the values that have been instilled in the team at the moment and making sure we're on the right path looking forward to what's coming up, a huge World Cup and an Ashes series in England, it's pretty exciting times ahead for the team and, making sure everyone's on the right path and heading in the same direction," Smith told cricket.com.au

"It's been very beneficial and really good."

Smith and Warner's 12-month bans for their roles in the ball tampering scandal will expire next week.

Both will jet to India to play in the Indian Premier League and use that to prepare for the World Cup and Ashes series in England.

Warner said he and Smith were welcomed with open arms.

"It's been awesome, it's like we didn't really leave," he said. "The boys were very accepting of us coming in, (welcoming us) with open arms and a lot of big hugs and cuddles.

"It's been great, it's been good to see the spirits that they're in after a great series win in India."

 

David Warner had a hit with Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood in Sydney late last year. Picture: Phil Hillyard
David Warner had a hit with Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood in Sydney late last year. Picture: Phil Hillyard

 

Warner said the meetings made it clear Australian cricket has changed in the 12 months he and Smith have been away.

"Making sure we're aligned with the team values moving forward, obviously being out for 12 months there's obviously been a big change, which is great and it's about just accepting that and playing what our role should be in the team moving forward," he said.

Australia coach Justin Langer believes the 12-month suspensions have made both Smith and Warner hungrier to succeed.

"It's great to have them back in the team, it's like two brothers coming back home," he said. "They've been received really well, they had a good night together last night and we've had some great meetings today, so it's been really positive.

"They've gone through a really tough time - 12 months' suspension, that's unprecedented really.

"They're excited and because they're so excited, their hunger for playing well, to make a lot of runs to help the Australian cricket team be successful, as a coach, when you've got two guys with as many runs and experience that they've got coming back in to a team which is playing well, that's pretty exciting."

 

Smith trained with the Sydney Sixers during the Big Bash. Picture: Brett Costello
Smith trained with the Sydney Sixers during the Big Bash. Picture: Brett Costello

 

Langer said their performances in the IPL will be critical to find form leading into the World Cup and Ashes series in England.

"The IPL is going to be a really important time for both of the boys because it gives them the opportunity to play some competitive cricket again, to hit a lot of balls, to get moving and get the feel of the game again," he said.

"For them it'll be just getting back into the rhythm of high-class cricket and I'm sure they'll get plenty out of that.

"They'll have some lead-up games, some 50 over games, so I'm sure it'll be great for their preparation."

Smith allayed fears over his injured elbow following surgery January, which some feared could delay his return.

"I'm really excited about playing again," he said about heading to the IPL.

"The elbow is tracking really well. I've been batting for the last two weeks and am able to play all shots and got my power back."