Australia captain Tim Paine is confident that the return of Steve Smith and David Warner will give Australia the edge in the Ashes series.
Warner and Smith are serving a one-year ban for ball-tampering and will make their return to international cricket on 29 March, two months before the World Cup begins.
It is unknown, however, whether they will take part in the tournament, but Paine made it certain that he backs the two for dominance in the Test arena, this coming after Australia sealed a 2-0 victory over Sri Lanka.
The series against Sri Lanka was the last Test series they will play before the World Cup. The Ashes, which starts on 1 August, will be Australia’s first Test series after the tournament.
‘I think everyone has, to a degree, got to earn their stripes. Those two have plenty of runs in the bank,’ said Paine.
‘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. Hopefully, once their bans are up, they’ll be welcomed back and they’ll win Test matches like they did beforehand.’
‘We spoke at the start of the summer about our main priority was to win back the respect of the Australian public and our cricket fans. Sitting here now we’ve gone a long way toward doing that,’ Paine added.
‘It’s in difficult times you see the characters you’ve got in your group and its confirmed to us we’ve got some good characters, some strong characters and some people we can build a really strong Australian cricket future on.’
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