The banned Australia leadership pair Steve Smith and David Warner said that they were welcomed back with open arms by the rest of the Australia squad when they met with the team in Dubai. The two cricketers are serving a 12-month ban for ball tampering, which is set to come to an end on March 28. The pair flew to Dubai to meet with teammates and the coaching staff ahead of Australia’s five-match ODI series against Pakistan.
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) 16 March 2019
Speaking in a chat with Cricket Australia, Warner said: “It’s been awesome. It’s like we didn’t really leave. The boys were very accepting of us coming in, with open arms and a lot of big hugs and cuddles and no it’s been great.”
Smith added that the Australia team, coming on the back of the ODI series win against India, are in “high spirits” going into the series against Pakistan.
“It seems like there’s a really good energy around the group at the moment coming of the back of what was a really terrific win in India. The spirits are really high and the boys have had a few down days, and slowly getting ready obviously for the upcoming series against Pakistan. But, it’s been great to be back around the group,” he said.
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) 17 March 2019
According to a report in Cricket Australia, the players were given a platform to interact with the duo as part of what is termed as their “reintegration” program. Speaking on the same, Smith said that the meetings were all about aligning and going forward with the “values” that the present team is carrying forward.
“It’s about making sure that we are aligned with the team values moving forward. I’ve obviously been out for 12 months and there’s been a big change, which is great, and it’s about us accepting that playing what our roles should be in the team moving forward,” said Warner. Smith seconded his views saying the focus of the meetings were about, “the values that are sort of instilled in the team at the moment and making sure we are 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 just making sure everyone’s on the right path and heading in the same direction,” the former Australia skipper said.
The right-handed batsman further expressed excitement about returning to India to play in the IPL. “I love playing in India. The IPL’s a terrific tournament and the elbow’s tracking really well. I have been batting for the last two weeks, and yeah able to play all shots,” he said.
Warner added: “I love going there and playing that tournament. It’s a great feel, great buzz, and good energy and India always put on a good show.”