Lehmann wants Smith and Warner to play Sheffield Shield
(From L to R): Darren Lehmann, David Warner and Steve Smith. (Getty Image)

Former Australia coach Darren Lehmann would like to see banned cricketers Steve Smith and David Warner play the Sheffield Shield tournament. Lehmann, the coach when the infamous ball-tampering scandal took place in March, feels that although Smith and Warner’s actions justify the 12-month long bans they’ve been handed, there is no reason why the duo can’t be allowed to play more domestic cricket. In the last couple of months, Smith and Warner have played club cricket for their sides Sutherland and Randwick-Petersham.

The bans handed down to the Australian trio of Smith, Warner and Cameron Bancroft for their roles in the ball-tampering scandal will remain as is, Cricket Australia (CA) unanimously ruled on Tuesday after reviewing a plea submitted by the players’ union to cut the penalties.

“The international bans I have no problem with, but it was too rushed and done too hastily,” Lehmann told a University of Queensland cricket breakfast in Brisbane on Tuesday. “The one I have a problem with is not letting them play domestic cricket. I don’t understand that at all. I see they play for Randwick – those boys in Sydney – and they are getting to 3000 to 5000 coming to watch them every weekend. Now I can’t understand why they can’t help the state Shield system.”

Bancroft’s ban is due to end on December 28, and Warner’s and Smith’s three months later. It is most likely that Smith and Warner will be automatically drafted back into the side considering Australia’s struggles of late, and Lehmann feels with the World Cup around the corner, the two players should be well prepared which can happen by them playing the Shield.

“The other reason they should play state cricket is that when they come back to play for Australia their first games are a World Cup game and the first Test match is the Test match of the Ashes,” he said. “You can’t expect them to play well straight away, so in effect the ban actually gets longer than 12 months. It goes to August or September (2019), so it almost ends up being an 18-month ban before they are back playing decent cricket.”