David Warner and Steve Smith
David Warner (L) and Steve Smith (Getty Images)

Bowling legend Shane Warne reckons that Australia ‘desperately’ need the banned duo of Steve Smith and David Warner as they lack ‘X-factor players’.

Smith and Warner are currently in the midst of a 12-month ban imposed by Cricket Australia after they accepted their involvement in the Newlands Test ball tampering scandal. Warner was revealed to be the brain behind the plan to alter the condition of the ball using a sandpaper while Cameron Bancroft, banned for nine months, was tasked with its execution.

Both Smith and Warner were stripped of their leadership roles.

“Australia will be pleading to have them back, they are two of the top five best batsmen in the world. Australia desperately need them,” Warne said.

However, Warne expects Australia to be a tough nut to crack when they travel to England for the 2019 Ashes. “I think Australia will give England a real run for their money next year,” he said.

Warne, Test cricket’s second most successful bowler, feels that since their famous Ashes win in 2005, England have instilled a belief that Australia are not unbeatable. “I don’t think England have feared Australia since they won the series in 2005, which they deserved to as the better side. Since then England realised Australia can be beaten,” Warne observed.

He further added, “Australia haven’t really got too many X-factor players. But I don’t think Australia really fear England too much now either, aside from Jimmy Anderson bowling with the Dukes ball.”

By the time Ashes starts in August next year, Smith and Warner would be back playing for Australia but Warne has warned the disgraced pair to be ready for tough times saying a hostile reception is very much a possibility.

“It’s going to be tough for them at first. Forgiveness takes time, but there’s nothing like making a couple of hundreds in a row and people thinking, ‘Oh, we’ve missed this guy’. They have to be aware that they’re in for a bit of a hostile time around the world until they’ve earned the respect back,” Warne, who took 708 wickets in 145 Tests, said.