The ball-tampering ban on Steve Smith has not diminished his ability to score hard and fast in T20s, as he ran up a quick fifty in the opening game of the Global T20 Canada series.
Smith was banned, along with David Warner, for a year from all national cricket after admitting his part in the scandal that hit the third Test against South Africa in March.
But he is free to play domestic cricket and showed that his time away has not hampered him. In the colours of the Toronto Nationals, he made 61 runs off 41 deliveries in an innings that improved the longer it went, including eight fours and a six, in his first competitive match since the ban was imposed. He brought up a half-century off 34 balls.
It was a valuable contribution as Toronto chased 227. New Zealand opener Anton Devcich reeled in the remaining total with relative ease, his unbeaten 92 off 44 seeing the Nationals home by six wickets with four balls to spare.
‘I normally don’t get real nervous before I play but if I’m being honest I was a little bit nervous today, three months off and I hadn’t hit that many balls,’ he said.
‘I had a bit of luck today, didn’t feel as good as I have in the past but it’s nice to score runs when you’re not feeling good so hopefully there are positive signs.’
According to tournament director Jason Harper, Smith is donating his playing fees to grassroots cricket, while both men will be serving as tournament ambassadors helping to promote the game in the country. Warner takes to the field on Friday for Winnipeg Hawks, where he will be captained by Dwayne Bravo and bat alongside South Africa’s David Miller.
Former Test all-rounder Shane Watson says Smith and Warner should be allowed to play in the Big Bash League.
‘The thing that just disappoints me about the whole situation is now Steve Smith and Dave Warner are over promoting other tournaments by playing in them,’ Watson said.
‘For them to have the opportunity to go and promote other tournaments, I’d prefer if they’re going to do that and have access to do that, they have access to promote the Big Bash, for example. Steve and Dave are such an integral part to Australian cricket, especially in the shorter format as well with the World Cup coming up.’