Steve Smith, David Warner mentor Australian bowlers for ‘Virat Kohli challenge’

Sydney: Banned Steve Smith and David Warner won’t be playing any of Australia’s upcoming Tests against India, but they are being quietly eased back into the fold to help their bowlers combat Virat Kohli.

The duo, once national captain and vice-captain respectively, were suspended from state and international cricket for 12 months over the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.

Last week, Cricket Australia decided against reducing the punishment given to Smith, Warner and Cameron Bancroft, meaning the disgraced trio will serve the full term of their bans.

India are currently in Australia and are being led by run-machine Virat Kohli with many former cricketers and pundits viewing the current tour as the best chance for the visitors to win a Test series Down Under.

Kohli’s prowess with the bat was there for all to see as the Indian captain hit an unbeaten 61 to guide India to a six-wicket win over the hosts in the final T20I that helped the visitors draw the three-match T20I series 1-1.

The loss in Sydney was yet another poor outing for the Aussies, who without Smith and Warner have been dire in the past few months.

With another stern test in the form of Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan in the upcoming Test series, which starts in Adelaide on December 6. Smith and Warner have been enlisted to help the pace attack prepare.

Warner was welcomed back on Sunday, spotted in the Sydney Cricket Ground nets facing Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins with coach Justin Langer intently watching on in the umpire’s position.

According to The Australian newspaper, he was also invited into the dressing room ahead of the team’s T20I defeat to India on Sunday evening, where a masterful Kohli was in prolific touch.

Fellow pace spearhead Mitchell Starc said Smith had also been asked to help the bowlers get ready this week.

“There’s talking to bowling coaches then there’s talking to the guys you’re bowling to. That’s a great opportunity to have him face us in our preparation leading up to the Tests,” Starc told the Sydney Morning Herald Monday.

“It’ll be great to bowl to him (Smith) in the nets. He’s one of the best in the world, to even get his thoughts on how we’re tracking will always be good for us.”

Both Smith and Warner have been training with their New South Wales team while playing club cricket as they work their way back to fitness and wait for their bans to expire.

(With inputs from AFP)