POST TIME: 17 March, 2019 09:23:57 PM
Smith, Warner back in Aussie fold
Afp, Melbourne

Smith, Warner back in Aussie fold

Steve Smith and David Warner have been welcomed back into the Australian fold with “hugs and cuddles” at a team meet-up in Dubai, and said it was like they'd never left.

The disgraced pair, whose year-long bans for ball-tampering expire this month, were invited by coach Justin Langer as part of their re-integration after the scandal in South Africa that rocked the cricketing world.

Australia are in Dubai as they prepare for an upcoming series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates following their upset one-day series win against India.

“It's been awesome. It's like we didn't really leave, the boys were very accepting of us coming in and with open arms," said Warner in audio comments supplied to AFP Sunday.

“A lot of big hugs and cuddles. It's been great.

“It's good to see the spirit they're in after a great series win in India and I am obviously looking forward to watching them play against Pakistan here and hopefully they win that series as well,” he added.

The “sandpapergate” scandal in Cape Town, which also saw opening batsman Cameron Bancroft banned for nine months, had far-reaching consequences for Australian cricket.

Then-coach Darren Lehmann quit and there was a clean-out of top executives from Cricket Australia after a scathing review said its “arrogant and controlling” culture was partly to blame for players bending the rules.

Australian cricket has since undergone a host of cultural changes under Langer, and Warner and Smith were brought up to speed at the meeting on how it now worked.

“Making sure we're in line with team values moving forwards,” Warner said of the meet-up, which also discussed the squad's preparations for the upcoming World Cup.