SYDNEY (Reuters) – Banned Australian duo Steve Smith and David Warner will look to share their wealth of experience with budding cricketers when they make their highly anticipated return to club cricket in Sydney on Saturday.
The batsmen were suspended for a year for their part in a ball-tampering scandal during a test in South Africa earlier this year and also removed as captain and vice-captain of the national side.
They were allowed to play in overseas Twenty20 competitions and domestic lower level club cricket but remain ineligible to appear in first-class games until next March.
Smith is due to appear for his Sutherland club against Mosman on Saturday at Glenn McGrath Oval, while Warner will be part of the Randwick-Petersham side to face St George at Coogee.
“Hopefully I can teach some of the young guys the game, help them learn,” Smith said in a video published by the Australian Cricketers’ Association.
“If I can pass on any information to these young guys coming through and help them turn into better players, I’ll do that.
“We want to see Australian cricket strong and it starts at this level. The more older heads there are around to come and help out, the better.”
In the same video, Warner said he was excited about guiding “some of the younger guys and older guys in the team”.
The presence of Smith and Warner has already raised the profile of grade cricket matches to unprecedented levels and record crowds are expected at the grounds.
Another enticing showdown is expected on Nov. 10, when Sutherland and Randwick-Petersham face each other.
Smith, who will turn out alongside Shane Watson for Sutherland, has played Twenty20 cricket in Canada and the Caribbean during his ban and Saturday’s 50-over match will be the first on home soil since the scandal erupted.
Warner played in the NT Strike League in Darwin back in July along with Cameron Bancroft, who is serving a nine-month suspension for his involvement in the scandal. Warner’s opponents will include former test team mate Josh Hazlewood.
Former Australia captain Steve Waugh will watch his son Austin play with Smith for Sutherland.
“I don’t want to comment particularly on Austin but it’ll be a great experience for all young players involved,” Steve Waugh told the Australian Associated Press.
“It’s a huge opportunity and it’s going to fast-track their learning so much.
“I don’t know Steve that well personally but watching from the sidelines, you know he’s not going to sell himself short in terms of preparation, commitment, dedication and passion. That will all be there, no matter where he’s playing.”
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by John O’Brien)