They were banned from playing professional cricket for a year after being caught up in the memorable ball tampering scandal last year in South Africa, but David Warner and Steve Smith are set to make a triumphant return as they’ve been selected for Australia’s World Cup squad.
The former captain and vice-captain were banned from the sport for 12 months, while player Cameron Bancroft was suspended for nine months, for their part in the cheating scandal.
However, both Warner and Smith recently returned to the field and now they’ve made the 15-man squad alongside the likes of Mitchell Starc and Jhye Richardson.
Batsman Shaun Marsh and all-rounder Marcus Stoinis also join Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jason Behrendorff in the line-up.
LATEST | Australia’s World Cup cricket squad has been announced. Steve Smith and David Warner return, Peter Handscomb and Josh Hazlewood miss out.
— FIVEaa (@1395FIVEaa) April 15, 2019
There were a few surprises however, as big names including Ashton Turner, Josh Hazelwood and Peter Handscomb missed out.
Smith and Warner were forced to make very public and emotional apologies last year in tearful press conferences for their part in the cheating scandal in South Africa. They all later confirmed they had accepted their punishments without contest.
And it comes after both players were welcomed back by the Australian cricket team last month, as their bans officially came to an end. The pair 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 at the time that 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.
Here's the Aussie squad out to defend their World Cup title!
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) April 15, 2019
“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.”
Meanwhile, Australian coach Justin Langer told the news outlet 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.”