Waugh expects duo to be welcomed

Steve Waugh tips a warm welcome for Steve Smith and David Warner in their return to Sydney Premier Cricket this weekend

Sam Ferris

18 September 2018, 01:24 PM AEST

Test great Steve Waugh expects the Australian public to welcome back Steve Smith and David Warner with open arms but warns their return to the national team will not be as inviting. 

Smith and Warner are set to play in Sydney's Premier Cricket competition this weekend in what will be the former skipper's first match in Australia following the fallout of the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal in March.

Smith will line up for Sutherland at Glenn McGrath Oval on Saturday and Waugh expects those in attendance to embrace the 28-year-old in his comeback match. 

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"I think they'll still adore him," Waugh told Fox Sports News today. "The Australian public, they are forgiving. 

"He made a mistake and he's paid a heavy price for it. But if he gets back out there and plays with the same enthusiasm and passion – he loves playing cricket, he loves scoring runs, he wants to get back playing for Australia – I think Australians will move past what happened before. 

"They obviously remember it, but they're big enough to realise you can make a mistake and grow from that and be stronger. 

"We need him back in Australian cricket. You can't lose someone of his quality overnight and expect to replace it and he's still only relatively young."

Waugh believes Warner, who will turn out for Randwick-Petersham in Coogee, will receive the same reception as Smith, but pointed out their road back to the Australia team is not a smooth one.

While Smith, Warner and Cameron Bancroft – the third player suspended by Cricket Australia – have been playing around the world in various T20 competitions, Waugh says the game will have changed by the time their bans are lifted. 

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"It's going to be a challenge for all of them to come back in to the fold," Waugh said. "It's not going to be as easy as people think. 

"You're out of the game 12 months, the game does move on, you lose that aura of invincibility about you a bit, you become a bit more fragile, maybe a bit of self-doubt creeping in. 

"It's going to be a real challenge for all three of those players to come back strong."

Waugh also outlined one other aspect the suspended trio will have to deal with – the life-long reminder of what took place in Newlands. 

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But Waugh is confident Smith, Warner and Bancroft have the resilience to negotiate the negative attention and rise above it. 

"That's another thing these boys are going to have to cope with – they're going to have to be prepared for every day of their lives someone is going to mention it," he said. 

"Whether it's right or wrong it's going to happen. 

"If you can't handle that situation and move on from that it's going to be difficult. 

"It can be cruel, unfair down the track but I think they're strong enough and have good support people around them to overcome that."

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