Smith, Warner prepare for Australian return

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Smith, Warner prepare for Australian return

BRISBANE: Steve Smith and David Warner are set to don the Australian colours this week for the first time since their ball-tampering bans despite struggling with illness.

The pair were welcomed back into the national fold last week for a pre-World Cup camp in Brisbane after serving year-long suspensions for their part in the “sandpapergate” scandal in Cape Town that rocked the sport.

Both have been hampered by viruses since returning from the Indian Premier League but took part in net sessions on Sunday ahead of the first of three practice games against New Zealand beginning on Monday.

Allrounder Glenn Maxwell said he was confident they will be fit to play.

“I assume so. They have been sick the last couple of days so, hopefully, they are up and running,” he told reporters.

“But I am pretty sure most of the guys will be ready to go.”

The duo have enjoyed a solid comeback in the Twenty20 IPL, with Warner in blistering form, topping the competition batting rankings with 692 runs from 12 innings.

Coach Justin Langer on Friday insisted there was “no tension” between the pair and the rest of the squad, adding: “They’re back in the team now. They’ve been selected, which is brilliant.”

Maxwell also denied any awkward moments, saying it had been “business as usual”.

“The way they came in (to the dressing room), we wanted to hear how they had enjoyed the IPL; wanted to hear how Davey enjoyed his time opening the batting with (England’s Jonny) Bairstow (for Sunrisers Hyderabad),” he said.

“And they are both superstars. I watched both of them go about it (in IPL) and they were both absolutely brilliant over there.

“There will be no worries about them coming back into the team.”

With Australia’s defence of their World Cup crown less than a month away, Langer will use the three warm-up games to fine-tune his plans.

The team has been in red-hot form, winning eight one-day internationals on the trot, against India and Pakistan, built on a flourishing opening partnership between Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja.

A key decision for Langer is whether to retain that combination or move one of them down to make way for Warner, who traditionally opens the batting, with the line-up for Monday’s game potentially answering that question.

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