Cricket Australia (CA) have entered the 'planning phase' about whether to bring back banned Australian cricketers Steve Smith and David Warner in the last two ODIs of the five-match series against Pakistan in late March, which is when their one-year suspensions expire.
Then captain Smith and deputy David Warner were the masterminds in a ball-tampering scandal during the third Test in South Africa on March 25, 2018, that disgraced Australian cricket. The duo were banned for a year on March 29, which means that their bans will also end on that day in 2019.
“We've had some good early discussions. We're also conscious that we've got a bit over three months to prepare,” CA chief executive Kevin Roberts told AAP yesterday.
“We're in the planning phase.
"If the draft dates of the Pakistan series remain as they are then it's possible the players will be eligible for selection for the final two matches," Roberts said. “That [whether Smith and Warner return mid-series] is something we need to consider over these coming weeks.”
There have been rumours that Pakistan would shift the date of the games, which would allow Warner and Smith to play the entire series if picked, but Roberts confirmed CA's “working assumption is the dates will remain as they are”.
Australia coach Justin Langer said on Christmas Eve that there is “definitely potential” that Smith and Warner could return against Pakistan.
“They're very determined to get back into the Australian cricket team,” Langer said.
Smith said last week that his participation in the Indian Premier League for Rajasthan Royals would be good preparation for the one-day games, with the most important assignment of the year for any team being the 50-over World Cup in England next summer. He will also be playing in the Pakistan Super League. Warner will play in the Bangladesh Premier League for Sylhet Sixers and will also participate in IPL for Sunrisers Hyderabad.
"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. "The IPL is one of the best 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,” the former Australian captain said.