By Frank Pingue
TORONTO (Reuters) - Former West Indies captain Darren Sammy has not talked to disgraced Australian Steve Smith about his cricket return but said on Wednesday his team mate in the Global T20 Canada league is ready for battle.
Smith's career was thrown into turmoil in March for his role in a ball-tampering scandal that took place in South Africa and earned the former Australia captain a 12-month ban from national and state teams.
The suspension, however, does not extend to domestic tournaments outside his home nation so the 29-year-old Smith will be on the field for the Toronto Nationals on Thursday for the opening game of the inaugural Global T20 Canada event.
"I've spoke to him as to the role I would love for him to play on the team. As to what's going on in his mind I think only Jesus could tell you what is going on in his mind," Toronto captain Sammy told a news conference. "But he looks ready."
The game will be Smith's first since he, vice-captain David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were banned by Cricket Australia for conspiring to scuff up the ball with sandpaper during the third test against South Africa.
Smith was not made available to the media in the lead-up to the tournament, but Sammy had nothing but praise for his new teammate.
"So far he has been brilliant for the guys, especially the batsmen," said Sammy.
"They might not be able to copy what he does in terms of experience and batting situations and the process in which he prepares for a match, but it's good to see how he goes about his business and good to learn from for the youngsters."
Smith apologised for the ball-tampering incident at a news conference during which he broke down several times and now Sammy feels it is time for everyone to move on from the incident that shook the cricket world.
"Look, we all know what he's done on the cricket field as a batsman," said Sammy.
"As a Christian when you commit sins there are punishments for your sins. It doesn't mean everything is OK, but there is always forgiveness after you've committed your sins and you paid the price. And you move on.
"We've done that. He missed out on (Indian Premier League), all that stuff. At the end of the day life goes on."
The 22-match tournament begins on Thursday just north of Toronto and concludes on July 15.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue, editing by Ed Osmond)