Pakistan 'potential' for Smith, Warner

24 December 2018

Banned pair may make quick return to Australia's ODI side with Pakistan series set to line up with end of ball-tampering suspensions

Australia coach Justin Langer says there is "potential" for Steve Smith and David Warner to feature in a one-day series against Pakistan in the UAE just days after their ball-tampering suspensions are served.

A five-match ODI series hosted by Pakistan has long been mooted for March next year as teams look to fine-tune for next year's World Cup in England. It had been pencilled in between March 15 and 29, but new reports suggest Pakistan has proposed hosting Australia from March 31 to April 13.

The year-long suspensions of Smith and Warner expire on March 29.

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If those dates are confirmed, it could see the banned duo return to the national team within 48 hours of their suspension lifting and the five matches could be valuable for Justin Langer to refine the reintegration of the players ahead of the World Cup.

"There's potential for that, but that's part of the process (to work through to reintegrate the banned players)," Langer told reporters in Melbourne today.

"There's lots of conversations going on about what's best for our bowlers, for the guys returning, and we'll work through that.

"We'll get the best outcome for Australian cricket and for them personally, but there's been no decisions made at this stage."

If the Pakistan series is played before the bans are lifted, Smith and Warner's would not be expected to play for Australia until the World Cup warm-up matches in England just prior to the tournament's start.

Smith and Warner are both due to play in next year's IPL however a number of Australia's leading ODI players have already opted out of the tournament given the tight timeframes and national commitments in the lead-up to the World Cup.

Players selected to meet Pakistan will not be released for the IPL by CA until after that series, while a mandatory training camp has been scheduled for early May for the 15 players who make the official World Cup squad.

Dates for the IPL have yet to be confirmed, but the crowded calendar of national commitments would dramatically shorten the window Smith and Warner could feature for their IPL franchises.

Smith is also due to play in the Pakistan Super League, while Warner will captain a side in the Bangladesh Premier League, and the former captain said he believed the T20 diet would be adequate preparation for the World Cup.

"These days, the way the one-day game is played it’s almost an extended T20 so T20 cricket is a good way to prepare," Smith told reporters last week in his first media appearance since the Cape Town saga.

"The IPL is one of the best (T20) tournaments around the world and from what I've heard about the Pakistan league, it's high quality, so I think that will be adequate preparation.

"I've been working hard at my game, I've been concentrating on a few weaknesses, I want to come back better.

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"This past nine months has been a big learning curve for me, and having a year out of the game to mentally refresh and get myself in a good headspace to go again, hopefully I can play at a better standard than I was when I got banned."

CA has previously said it would consider players' desires to feature in the IPL on a case-by-case basis, with the governing body required to issue a No Objection Certificate for any Australian wanting to feature in the T20 tournament.

CA's interim executive general manager of Team Performance, Belinda Clark, said the governing body was committed to "working hard to ensure the health and match readiness" of players "while respecting the players’ interests in playing in the various formats".

"It is a difficult period with the IPL being brought forward to accommodate the World Cup, and overlapping our domestic season.  We are committed to respecting the position of the Sheffield Shield, while ensuring Australia’s World Cup squad is well prepared for this critical world event, while also ensuring those that are fit to play have opportunity to participate in the IPL," Clark said in November.

"While this is no easy feat, I think we have managed a reasonable balance that will enable the players to consider their options and choose what is right for them and their respective teams."

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