Smith, Warner return to IPL after ball-tampering row

Steve Smith dubs Jos Buttler as 'one of world's most destructive batsmen'

Steve Smith and David Warner have been welcomed back into the Australian fold with "hugs and cuddles" at a team meet-up in Dubai, and said it was like they'd never left.

The Australian run-machine will be making a return to top-flight after serving a one-year global ban for his involvement in massive ball-tampering scanadal that took place during the four-match Test series against South Africa in March last year.

"Those guys have not played any high level cricket for a long time", Ponting told the Times of India newspaper, saying Smith and Warner "still have to prove they are the best players".

"There were a lot of big hugs and cuddles", Warner said.

The disgraced pair recently had a short stopover in the UAE en route to their respective Indian Premier League franchises, spending the better part of 24 hours with the men they will call teammates at the World Cup.

"It's like we didn't really leave, the boys were very accepting of us coming in and with open arms". "Obviously (we've) been out for 12 months and there has been a big change, which is great, and it's about accepting that and playing what our role should be in the team". They are both, I guess, the pinnacle of one-day cricket and Test cricket, for an Australian player. Smith and Warner are going to be hungry, determined and excited to be back playing rather than worrying about answering questions.

"The spirits are really high, the boys have had a few down days and slowly getting ready for the upcoming series against Pakistan, but it's been great to be back around the group, they've been really welcoming again and it's nearly like we never left so everything's on the right track".

"Just making sure everyone's on the right path and heading in the same direction so it's been very beneficial and really good".

Australia coach Justin Langer described the meeting as "like two brothers coming home". "I always knew how good Jos was, but I don't think he realised how good he was", Warne said. "I have been batting for the last two weeks, and yeah able to play all shots".

After a meeting that was said to have focussed mainly on team culture and behaviour, both Smith and Warner spoke of the warm reception they received from the group.

"I love going there and playing that tournament", he said.

Langer was enthused by the prospect of both Smith and Warner returning to the side. I think they'll just be excited to get out and play and they'll be determined to show how much they've missed the game and how good they are, and that could rub off on the team and take the team with them. I wasn't just a leader of the group trying to pump someone's tyres up to make them play well and give them confidence.

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