Australian skipper Tim Paine on Monday said he expects the banned duo of Steve Smith and David Warner to play “a huge” role in this year’s Ashes series against England, with Australia now in “a really good place.”
After a torrid 12 months marred by the ball-tampering row and poor form without their top stars, Australia ended their summer on a high by emphatically winning two Tests against Sri Lanka. They claimed the first in Brisbane by an innings and 40 runs and the second in Canberra by 366 runs.
Smith and Warner’s bans expire late next month and they are widely expected to quickly return to the national set-up.
“I think everyone to a degree has to earn their stripes. I think those two have got plenty of runs in the bank if you like,” Paine said when asked if they could slot straight back in.
“Look, I see us going to the Ashes and them having a huge part in us winning the series. That’s how I see how important they are to this team.
“We know how good they are and hopefully once their bans are up they’ll be welcomed back and they will win Test matches like they did before.”
Paine said he has a “fair idea” of what the Ashes team might look like.
“What we have seen over this summer is we are starting to build a squad with plenty of depth. There’s probably anywhere between 16 and 25 players we think are now in the mix, which is a really good place to be,” he added.