CPL opens its arms to suspended Steve Smith, David Warner

Barred from participating in the IPL, Big Bash League and with English county sides warned not to consider them by the ECB, the suspended duo of Steve Smith and David Warner has found ready takers in the West Indies.

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Smith and Warner, currently serving 12-month bans from international cricket for their roles in the ball-tampering controversy that erupted in South Africa, are set to feature in the upcoming Caribbean Premier League (CPL) which starts August 18 as they continue to pursue competitive playing opportunities.

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Smith, who recently turned out in Canada’s inaugural Global T0 tournament, scoring 167 runs at an average of 33 in six matches, will play for Barbados Tridents. Warner, who also played in Canada, is part of St Lucia Stars. The two banned Australian cricketers are scheduled to play each other on August 17 and September 2 when their teams clash.

The CPL is the most serious form of cricket either Australia has played since the Newlands Test in March.

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Pete Russell, the CPL’s chief operating officer, told AAP that Smith’s decision to feature in the tournament was not for financial reasons.

“It was a relatively late change of heart but there weren’t any financial incentives,” he said.  “In consultation with his manager and wife-to-be, I think they decided he just needed playing time. He wanted to play hard cricket, get back into the swing of it and also fly under the radar. You don’t get hassled by anybody in the Caribbean, that was a large part of it. If this were an opportunity in England for example, there’d be more of that.”

CPL chief executive underlined Damien O’Donohoe how eager the West Indies Cricket Board was to have players such as Smith and Warner feature in the tournament. “It was a very short conversation with the WICB … they were all for it. It’s a great opportunity for us to have two of the game’s biggest names … it’s going to raise the profile of the tournament,” he said.

Following the CPL’s conclusion on September 16, both players are expected to play in Sydney’s Premier Cricket competition starting September 22.