Steve Smith and David Warner, whose 12-month bans are set to expire next week, have been welcomed back by the Australian cricket team.
The banned former leaders were invited to join the Australian squad in the UAE ahead of a five-game one-day series against Pakistan. Smith and Warner flew in for meetings with players and coaches.
Warned told cricket.com.au he and Smith were welcomed with open arms.
“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,” he said.
“It’s been great. It’s great to see the spirit that they’re in after a great series win in India, and obviously looking forward to watching them play against Pakistan here. Hopefully they win the series there as well.”
The former Australian team vice-captain was suspended from the sport for a year for his part in the cheating scandal. An investigation by Cricket Australia found former captain Smith, Warner and player Cameron Bancroft where the only players who knew of the ball tampering plan and that Warner was the driving force behind it.
Meanwhile, Australian coach Justin Langer told cricket.com.au that their return is great news.
“It’s great to have them back in the team, it’s like two brothers coming back home,” he said. ”They’ve been received really well, they had a good night together last night and we’ve had some great meetings today, so it’s been really positive.
“They’ve gone through a really tough time — 12 months’ suspension, that’s unprecedented really.
“They’re excited and because they’re so excited, their hunger for playing well, to make a lot of runs to help the Australian cricket team be successful, as a coach, when you’ve got two guys with as many runs and experience that they’ve got coming back in to a team which is playing well, that’s pretty exciting.”
Smith and Warner’s 12-month bans for their roles in the ball tampering scandal will expire next week. The pair is now set to head to India for the upcoming Indian Premier League, which begins on March 24.