Qantas Tour of the UAE
'Like we never left': Banned pair returns
Smith, Warner meet with Aussie squad in Dubai, discuss team values ahead of their impending comebacks to the national side
17 March 2019, 12:19 PM AEST
Suspended former leadership pair Steve Smith and David Warner have had their long-awaited meet-up with the Australia squad in Dubai, with both players suggesting the feeling upon their return was almost as if they never left.
As the national squad enjoyed some downtime in the Emirates following an historic ODI series win against India, and ahead of the upcoming five-match ODI series with Pakistan, Smith and Warner flew in for a number of meetings with players and coaching staff.
It is understood all players had the opportunity to air any questions in an open discussion around the team’s current, and ongoing, values.
"It's been awesome," said Warner. "It's like we didn't really leave, the boys were very accepting of us coming in and with open arms.
"(There were) 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."
Smith noted the positive energy in a group that last week tasted its first ODI series win since January 2017, becoming the first-ever Australian side to overturn a nil-two deficit to win a five-match one-day series.
Following the Cape Town scandal, Australian cricket also underwent an independent cultural review, one upshot being the aim towards a cultural shift in the men's national sides.
During the meetings, Smith and Warner were further brought up to speed with the revised landscape of the national set-up under limited-overs skipper Aaron Finch and coach Justin Langer, who took over following Darren Lehmann's resignation in South Africa last March.
"I guess it's just been going through the values that are instilled in the team at the moment and making sure we are on the right path looking forward to what's coming up; a huge World Cup and an Ashes series in England," Smith said.
"It's pretty exciting times ahead for the team and just making sure everyone's on the right path and heading in the same direction."
Warner echoed his former skipper's sentiment with regards to gaining an understanding of team values, pointing out the sizeable shift that has taken place in the pair's absence.
"Making sure that we are aligned with the team values moving forward," the opening batsman said with regard to the meetings.
"Obviously being out for 12 months there's been a big change, which is great, and it's about just accepting that and playing what our role in the team should be moving forward."
Coach Langer was typically warm in his acceptance of the returning pair, Australia's best two batsmen in recent years and key figures in the two major upcoming assignments in the UK.
"It's great to have them back in the team," the Western Australian said. "It's like two brothers coming home.
"They have been received really well, we had a good night together last night and had some great meetings today so it's been really positive.
"We set some values probably nine or 10 months ago with the team and then (in the meetings) we just had a look at how we are going with those values and how we can use our values and behaviours to keep moving the team forward on and off the field.
"We talked about making Australians proud. We talked about great cricketers and great people, so this is just a really good opportunity with this time between the Indian series and the Pakistan series just to reset where we are at and reassess where we are at and I think it's been a really worthwhile exercise.
"As a coach when you have got two guys with as many runs and experience as they've got coming back into a team that's playing well, that's very exciting."
The pair is now set to head to India for the upcoming Indian Premier League, which begins on March 24.
Warner returned from an elbow injury via Premier Cricket last week and is expected to feature in Sunrisers Hyderabad's first game, while Smith is further behind in his recovery from elbow surgery and as such, his return date with Rajasthan Royals remains unclear.
"I love playing in India," Smith added. "The IPL's a terrific tournament and the elbow is tracking really well.
"I've been batting for the last two weeks and (am) able to play all shots, got my power back, so I am tracking really well and I'm just excited to play again."
Australia's first ODI against Pakistan is on March 22 in Sharjah.
Qantas Tour of the UAE
First ODI: v Pakistan, March 22 in Sharjah
Second ODI: v Pakistan, March 24 in Sharjah
Third ODI: v Pakistan, March 27 in Abu Dhabi
Fourth ODI: v Pakistan, March 29 in Dubai
Fifth ODI: v Pakistan, March 31 in Dubai