Steve Smith, David Warner shine on return to Australian cricket
Steve Smith in action for Sutherland. (Getty Image)

Playing their first match on Australian soil since being banned for involvement in the ball-tampering scandal, Steve Smith and David Warner played significant knocks for their respective teams in the NSW Premier Cricket. Smith struck a fine 85 off 92 balls for Sutherland against Mosman with six fours and one six, while Warner, representing Randwick-Petersham, scored a chanceless century against St George.

Smith last played in the Caribbean Premier League for the Barbados Trident, for whom he scored 185 runs in seven matches before a side strain ruled him out of the tournament. Warner didn’t have the greatest of runs in the tournament, tallying 220 runs from nine games for St. Lucia Stars with a highest of 72 not out. Against an attack that comprised Josh Hazlewood, Warner brought up his hundred off 98 deliveries.

As for Smith, the uncertainty regarding his acceptance by the fans was put to rest the moment he walked out to bat. In front of over a thousand spectators at the Glenn McGrath Oval, Smith received a loud ovation.

“It’s awesome to see him playing,” said Shane Watson, Smith’s team-mate who missed the match due to injury. “I’d prefer him to be playing for Australia, but the support that he got, the warm applause when he scored runs and also when he got out shows that everyone is supporting him.

“The support that he’s got today would just reassure (to him) that everything’s OK. People make mistakes and people do forgive and forgive very quickly as well.”

Watson’s thoughts were echoed a day earlier by Australia head coach Justin Langer, who stressed on having Smith, Warner and Cameron Bancroft – currently serving 12-month bans – return to the Australian team in 2019, a year in which they will travel to England for the ICC World Cup and The Ashes.

“Steve Smith is one of the nicest people you will ever meet in your life. He’s also a complete cricket tragic,” Langer had said. “He’s a ripping young bloke. And what a player. As committed to batting and being great as anyone you’ll ever meet.

“Davey’s the marathon man of Australian cricket, people don’t remember that. He’d played every single game of cricket. He’d play Test, One Day, T20, IPL, cricket all year round. He was being hailed as a great leader in that finally Australia was playing good T20.”