Steve Smith has returned to the Rajasthan Royals team for IPL 2019 after missing the last season due to the ball-tampering scandal. (Image credit: Rajasthan Royals)
March is already proving to a glorious month in the life of Steve Smith. With his one-year ban for the ball-tampering scandal coming to an end by end of the month, Smith has reconnected with the Australian cricket team in Dubai and now, he is back in the IPL for Rajasthan Royals. Smith joined the Royals in Jaipur and he will attend the camp on Sunday. David Warner, also banned for one year due to the scandal, is also returning to the IPL and will join the Sunrisers Hyderabad training camp on Saturday. The duo spent some time in Dubai where both Australia and Pakistan will be playing a bilateral series. Steve Smith and David Warner have revealed to have felt like "they'd never left" after getting to spend some time with the Australian squad. With less than two weeks to go for their year-long bans to come to an end, both former captains insisted on the players have been very "welcoming" and "accepting".
"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," said Warner.
Smith and Warner will be available for selection from March 29 and are expected to be brought back into the mix in England for the World Cup and the Ashes. Though the team struggled to find the rhythm post their suspension, a 3-2 victory in India would have surely given them a much-needed boost. "It seems like there's really good energy around the group at the moment coming off 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.
"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."
There's been a lot of talk around Australian cricket over the last few months about how the dressing-room would welcome back the former leaders following their suspension. Coach Justin Langer elaborated on the bonhomie and camaraderie between the returning duo in dramatic fashion saying, "It is like two brothers coming back home. Brothers leave home for different reasons in families. So nice to have them back. They've been received really well. We had a good night together last night. It's great to have them back in the team."
Langer also believed that the duo's "hunger for playing well and to make a lot of runs" will bode well for the team going forward and also about how he hoped the team could continue building on the present culture and continue making "Australians proud"." They've gone through a really tough time. A 12-month suspension is unprecedented really. As a coach, when you got two guys with their runs and experience coming back into a team that's doing well, that's pretty exciting," he said.
"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," Warner added. Langer too felt that the IPL would allow his two key players to get back into the "rhythm of high-class cricket" and about being confident that they'll both get plenty out of it and be prepared for their eventual comebacks to the team in England.