England’s county cricket teams have been discreetly approached over the chance to sign former Australia captain Steve Smith during his 12-month international and Australia domestic exile, reports the Evening Standard.
Following the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town last month, it is thought that a number of counties have been given encouragement over the possibility of acquiring the world’s best Test match batsman, whose ban does not – in theory – prevent him from playing professional cricket overseas.
However, Smith would require a no-objection certificate from CA to play for a county, while the ECB would have to give their seal of approval. Last week, Smith and David Warner, Australia’s former vice-captain, had their 2018 Indian Premier League contracts revoked.
Cricket Australia may soften their stance on Smith, who, along with Cameron Bancroft and David Warner, has apologised profusely in recent days for his involvement in the scandal that has rocked Australia and world cricket.
David Warner, identified as the man behind the plan to alter the condition of the ball in Cape Town, today followed Smith and Bancroft’s lead by announcing via Twitter that he would not appeal against his penalty.
I have today let Cricket Australia know that I fully accept the sanctions imposed on me. I am truly sorry for my actions and will now do everything I can to be a better person, teammate and role model.
— David Warner (@davidwarner31) April 5, 2018
In accepting his punishment on Wednesday, Smith tweeted: “I would give anything to have this behind me and be back representing my country. But I meant what I said about taking full responsibility as captain. I won’t be challenging the sanctions. They’ve been imposed by CA to send a strong message and I have accepted them.”
Somerset confirmed last week that Cameron Bancroft, who is banned for nine months for his active part in the affair, would no longer be joining them as their overseas player this summer.
I would give anything to have this behind me and be back representing my country. But I meant what I said about taking full responsibility as Captain of the team. I won’t be challenging the sanctions. They’ve been imposed by CA to send a strong message and I have accepted them.
— Steve Smith (@stevesmith49) April 4, 2018
It remains to be seen whether CA will look favourably to Smith plying his trade in county cricket this summer.
Whether a county team will pursue David Warner, for either the Vitality Blast or for a prolonged stint across formats, is also up for debate. However, the ball-tampering scandal and the general derogation of Australia’s broken culture in recent years has severely damaged his reputation.
Considering the hurdles county clubs will need to climb to acquire the services of one of cricket’s most controversial characters, his presence on England’s domestic scene in 2018 remains unlikely.