Steve Smith and David Warner are expected to make their return to Australian first-grade cricket next month as they continue to serve their ban from international and state sides for ball-tampering earlier this year.
The two senior players are suspended until the end of March next year after plotting to cheat in the Test series against South Africa nearly five months ago. The duo conspired to get young batsman Cameron Bancroft to scrub a piece of sandpaper on the ball during the third Test in an attempt to illegally alter its condition.
Smith and Warner were handed 12-month bans from international and state cricket, with Bancroft suspended for nine months, but all three were allowed to play club cricket outside of Australia providing it was agreed with Cricket Australia.
The pair are expected to play in the opening fixtures of the Premier Cricket league on 22 September, with Smith set to turn out for Sutherland as they host Mosman, while Warner’s Randwick-Petersham side face St George.
That raises the prospect of the two playing against each other on 10 November when Sutherland face Randwick-Petersham in a one-day match at a venue yet to be determined.
Cricket Australia announced their returns on Tuesday in what is expected to be their first steps towards a future return to the national set-up, although that cannot happen until after games against Pakistan, South Africa, India, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and India this winter.
Having missed the Indian Premier League, 29-year-old Smith made his debut in the Twenty20 Caribbean Premier League [CPL] last Sunday, scoring 41 runs for the Barbados Tridents.
The disgraced former Australia captain also regained the world No 1 batsman spot from India’s Virat Kohli, despite not playing any competitive cricket between March and June when he returned to action in Canada’s newly-formed T20 tournament.
Warner also made his return in the CPL with the St Lucia Stars, while Bancroft has been playing in Darwin’s Strike League in Australia last month.