STEVE Smith and David Warner will take their next step in search of absolution in Sydney on Saturday, vowing to mentor future stars during their return to grade cricket.
Record crowds are expected at Coogee Oval and Glenn McGrath Oval this weekend. Warner will represent Randwick-Petersham at Coogee, squaring off against a St George side featuring former Test teammates Josh Hazlewood and Trent Copeland.
Smith, who will play alongside Shane Watson for Sutherland, meets Mosman at Glenn McGrath Oval.
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“Hopefully I can teach some of the young guys the game, help them learn,” Smith said in a video published by the Australian Cricketers’ Association.
“If I can pass on any information to these young guys coming through and help them turn into better players, I’ll do that.
“We want to see Australian cricket strong and it starts at this level. The more older heads there are around to come and help out, the better.”
Warner noted in the same clip he is excited about the prospect of mentoring “some of the younger guys and older guys in the team”.
The pair, targeting an international return at next year’s World Cup, are barred from representing their country, state and any BBL franchise until March 28 as part of Cricket Australia’s punishments for their role in the Cape Town cheating scandal.
If Smith and Warner reject advances from a new Twenty20 league in the UAE, as is expected, then grade cricket will be their best chance this summer to spend some time in the middle.
National selectors Trevor Hohns, Greg Chappell and Justin Langer are expected to keep tabs on their performance during the next few months.
Chappell will be in Sydney this weekend but won’t be studying Smith and/or Warner’s batting.
Legend Steve Waugh, whose son Austin will be seeking to learn as much as possible from Sutherland teammate Smith, will be in the crowd at Glenn McGrath Oval.
“I don’t want to comment particularly on Austin but it’ll be a great experience for all young players involved,” Steve Waugh told AAP.
“It’s a huge opportunity and it’s going to fast-track their learning so much. “I don’t know Steve that well personally but watching from the sidelines, you know he’s not going to sell himself short in terms of preparation, commitment, dedication and passion.
“That will all be there, no matter where he’s playing.”
Nic Maddinson, who like Smith started his club career at Sutherland, will be training with Victoria in Sydney when Smith takes the field.
“I saw Steve a few weeks ago and he seems in a pretty good place,” Maddinson said.
“He’s just going to be happy playing cricket again and looking forward to giving back to the club he grew up playing for.
“Hopefully the young guys aren’t too shy and happy to ask him a few questions and try to learn from him.”