Steve Smith will return stronger, says Graeme Smith

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MUMBAI: Disgraced Australian cricketer Steve Smith will be much stronger mentally when he returns to international cricket after serving a one-year ban for his involvement in ball tampering, former South Africa skipper Graeme Smith said.

Former Australia captain Smith was stripped of his position and banned from international and domestic cricket for a year by Cricket Australia (CA) for conspiring to scuff up the ball with sandpaper during a March Test against South Africa in Cape Town.

Vice-captain David Warner was also banned for 12 months and batsman Cameron Bancroft suspended for nine months, as Australia were criticised globally by fans and commentators for what they perceived to be an arrogant and hypocritical team culture.

“The Australia team got into that mindset of winning at all costs and the way they play the game,” Smith, who played 117 Tests while captaining South Africa in 109 of them, said.

“I would love to interview him (Steve) and ask him if that’s something he wishes he had sort of changed a little bit as the leader in terms of the culture, how they play, the win at all cost mindset.

“And how he’s reviewed that now after the situation. That will be an interesting interview.”

One of the leading batsmen in the world, the 28-year-old Australian has also been barred from holding leadership positions in the national side for two years.

He will, however, return to cricket as a marquee player at next month’s Global T20 Canada league.

“Playing at the top level is competitive, you want to win,” Graeme Smith said at the sidelines of the Ceat Cricket Rating awards.

“He’s still a young man, we have all made mistakes. I expect him to bounce back and come back really strong. Mentally he would have grown a lot from this situation.”

The South African remains the most capped Test captain in the history of the game. After taking over the reins of the side at the age of 22, he finished as the world record holder for the most Test wins as a skipper with 53.


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