(Reuters) - Australian batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner will come back stronger than ever from their 12-month bans and the latter will be the best player at the World Cup this year, former leg spinner Shane Warne has said.
Smith and Warner were banned by Cricket Australia for 12 months in March last year for their roles in the ball-tampering scandal in a test match against South Africa in Cape Town.
Their bans end on March 28 and both players will be reintegrated into the national team after their participation in the Indian Premier League in March and April.
“I think what you are going to see is a pretty quiet David Warner and Steve Smith. They are just going to try and let their bat do the talking and toe the line,” Warne told The Telegraph in an interview.
“I think they will come back better than they were. They’re going to come out and destroy attacks and I back David Warner to be the player of the World Cup.
“Warner overstepped the line a lot in his early career. He then changed into a more placid player but was then told by Cricket Australia to be the enforcer and was doing what he was told.”
Warne expects the duo to return with renewed vigour, like he did after his 12-month ban for failing a drugs test in 2003. Warne was suspended for taking a banned diuretic and missed Australia’s World Cup winning campaign as a result.
“All I can go on is experience having a year off myself. The next four years were the best I ever had,” Warne, who took 708 wickets for Australia in 145 test matches, added.
“I was hungry for the game. My body and mind were fresh and it is amazing how excited you are to play again.
“You get excited just going to the nets again because you have taken it for granted in the past.”
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge