Australia’s Smith and Warner make successful starts on return to Sydney grade cricket

Former test captain Steve Smith scored 85 runs off 92 deliveries for his Sutherland club in his first innings on Australian soil since the ball-tampering scandal that led to his one-year ban from international and state cricket.

Smith and David Warner, who was also suspended for his role in the incident, still have another six months of their bans to serve but are continuing their rehabilitation in the new Sydney club cricket season, which got underway this weekend.

While former vice-captain Warner was making his return in Randwick-Petersham’s first fixture a few miles away at Coogee Oval, Smith was the first of the two test batsmen to face a ball in his club’s match against Mosman. The 29-year-old, who got married this week, received a warm welcome from an unusually large crowd at the Glenn McGrath Oval and looked his usual twitchy self at the crease as he rattled off a half-century in 62 balls.

When it was his turn to bat, Warner – who was facing a St George attack featuring no less than Australian fast bowler Josh Hazlewood – exhibited his full range of shots to bring up a century and celebrated in typical fashion by punching the air.

Both players have been allowed to play non-international cricket outside Australia and Warner and Smith have taken advantage with cameos in T20 tournaments in Canada and the Caribbean. Their Cricket Australia bans expire on March 28 and it looks like they will be welcomed back into the Australia set up for next year’s 50-overs World Cup and Ashes series in England.

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