Smith and Warner’s Absence Proving Fatal to Australian Cricket

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The one-year bans Cricket Australia imposed on Steve Smith and David Warner will be over at the end of March 2019.

They will both be eligible for selection for Australia’s defense of the World Cup and the Ashes.

The question becomes, will they, should they, be selected?

The drop for Aussie cricket without two of the best batsmen in the world has been precipitous, but selectors will have to weigh that agasint the permanent damage the two players have done to Australia and the game’s reputation.

The figure is stark. Australia have lost eight of 11 matches, winning only three limited-overs matches is Twenty20 and two of those came at the expense of Zimbabwe, which are basically the international cricket version of the Carlton Blues.

Both Smith and Warner, banned from playing professional cricket in Australia or at the international level, have found work in Canada’s Global T20 league, where it might reasonably be expected that they would run amok, but that has not been the case. Their figures have been dismal, with Smith finishing the tournament with 167 runs at 33.40, while Warner had 109 at 15.57.

If the selection were to be made on results alone, neither of these two would be picked.

Even if they were, and the same could be said of Cameron Bancroft, the third of the ball-tampering triumvirate, there will be not time to sharpen form at first class and one-day cricket.

All three players could rightly say that they have done their time and should be forgiven.

We have already forgiven them, as they were treated harshly by any standard for something that is all too common in the game.

But unless they can start hauling tons in the way to which we have been accustomed, our forgiveness is contingent.

The implications are far-reaching, but for the more immediate, the world number one Test team, India, is due to pay a visit knowing that this is their best chance to secure that which has eluded them; a Test series win in Australia.