SYDNEY: Australian cricket needs disgraced ex-captain Steve Smith and he is likely to be welcomed back with open arms, former skipper Steve Waugh forecast Tuesday, although it might be tougher for David Warner.
The pair are serving one-year suspensions from international and state cricket over their part in the ball-tampering scandal against South Africa in March, while opener Cameron Bancroft was banned for nine months.
“We need him back in Australian cricket,” Waugh told Fox Sports Australia of 29-year-old Smith, who has played 64 Tests.
“You can’t lose someone of his quality overnight and expect to replace it and he’s still only relatively young.”
All three players accepted responsibility for the scandal that rocked the sport, with Smith’s tearful apology on his arrival back in Australia tugging at the heartstrings.
Waugh said fans “still adore him”.
“The Australian public, they are forgiving,” he said. “He (Smith) 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.”