Australian coach Justin Langer has hinted at potential return of tainted former skipper Steve Smith and former vice-captain David Warner in the one-day series against Pakistan, which is slated to begin just two days after the expiry of their year-long suspensions in March 2019.
Smith and Warner were handed year-long bans by Cricket Australia from international cricket and Australia's domestic Sheffield Shield and Big Bash League for their role in ball-tampering scaldal in South Africa that sent shock waves across cricket world in March.
The duo's suspension is slated to expire on March 29 and Pakistan have proposed hosting Australia in ODI series from March 31 to April 13 at the UAE.
In case the series go ahead according to the proposed dates, Smith and Warner could possibly make a comeback to the national squads within two days of their suspension lifting.
Reflecting on the same, Langer said that the five-match ODI series against Pakistan could prove to be valuable in reintegrating the banned players ahead of the 2019 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup.
"There's potential for that, but that's part of the process (to work through to reintegrate the banned players).There's lots of conversations going on about what's best for our bowlers, for the guys returning, and we'll work through that," cricket.com.au quoted Langer as saying.
"We'll get the best outcome for Australian cricket and for them personally, but there's been no decisions made at this stage," he added.
However,if Pakistan and Australia decide to head into the series before the duo's bans are lifted, Smith and Warner are unlikely to represent the national side before the World Cup warm-up matches in England.
With Smith and Warner are all set to play in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), respectively, the former skipper belives the T20 tournaments would surely offer them with adequet preparation ahead of the World Cup.
"These days, the way the one-day game is played it’s almost an extended T20 so T20 cricket is a good way to prepare," Smith told reporters last week in his first media appearance since the Cape Town saga," Smith said.
"The IPL is one of the best (T20) tournaments around the world and from what I've heard about the Pakistan league, it's high quality, so I think that will be adequate preparation.I've been working hard at my game, I've been concentrating on a few weaknesses, I want to come back better," he added.
Admitting that the last nine months was a big learning curve for him, Smith said that he is looking forward to start afresh and showcase a better batting performance than the past.
"This past nine months has been a big learning curve for me, and having a year out of the game to mentally refresh and get myself in a good headspace to go again, hopefully I can play at a better standard than I was when I got banned," Smith signed off.
Besides the duo, Cameron Bancroft was also imposed a nine-month suspension from international and state cricket for attempting to artificially alter the condition of the ball during the four-match Test series against South Africa. His suspension is all set to end on December 29