Disgraced Australia batting duo Steve Smith and David Warner are back in the international fold following their selection in The Baggy Greens’ preliminary squad for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup.
This key pair at the top of their country’s batting order were handed
one-year bans by Cricket Australia for their part in the now infamous ball-tampering
scandal during the 2018 Tour of South Africa which also involved Cameron
As those suspensions have expired, however, and with The Ashes series
following the World Cup held in England and Wales, it came as no surprise to
see them recalled for a major tournament.
The absence of both Smith and Warner over the last 12 months has caused
Australia’s One Day International ranking to suffer. They head to the World Cup
rated the fifth best side on the planet, but are an entirely different
proposition in the 50 overs format with those two again available for
Bookmakers bet365 clearly believe The Baggy Greens sit on a false ranking as
their outright World Cup
cricket betting has Australia down at 4/1 third-favourites for the
tournament. They are also long odds-on 1/7 chances to open up their campaign
with a win over Afghanistan at the Bristol County Ground on under the
floodlights on Saturday, 1 June.
A statement of Cricket Australia’s intent was plain when Smith and Warner
both played in an unofficial One Day warm-up match against a New Zealand XI.
Both men faced 43 balls apiece, scoring 22 and 39 respectively as The Baggy
Greens beat their neighbours by a wicket.
Smith also showed his fielding qualities with a one-handed diving catch which resulted in New Zealand skipper Tom Latham’s dismissal. Warner’s knock, meanwhile, include seven boundaries (six fours and a six).
Their return to the Australia setup brings plenty of debate with it about
which pair should open the batting at the World Cup. Warned came in as the
third man, while Usman Khawaja was out cheaply for just four runs.
Both Khawaja and Baggy Greens skipper Aaron Finch put on big scores in
the last ODI series Australia played against Pakistan, who are just below them
in the world rankings. The Baggy Greens whitewashed their opponents from the
Subcontinent with a perfect five out of five.
Prior to that, they also came from behind to beat 11/4 World Cup
second-favourites India 3-2 in a
One Day series – their first in two years. That was all achieved without
Smith and Warner, but their presence certainly adds greater strength in depth
The redemption arc is an obvious story and subplot to this World Cup. Smith
and Warner can certainly expect to be cast in roles as villains from
crowds in English and Welsh cricket grounds this summer.
In serving their bans, neither has missed anything relatively significant
compared to the World Cup and Ashes. Nor have Cricket Australia given them much
time to build up match sharpness for the former.
Those suspensions expired at the end of March and The Baggy Greens have two
official warm-up games before the World Cup starts. They are against England
and Sri Lanka both at the Rose Bowl in Southampton on Saturday, 25 and
Monday, 27 May.