Steve Smith and David Warner could have their one-year bans from international and state cricket reduced or adjusted after a review by the board of Cricket Australia (CA) this week, local media reports said on Monday.
Former test captain Smith and vice-captain Warner were handed the bans by CA after the ball-tampering scandal earlier this year and are not scheduled to resume playing at the top level until the end of March 2019.
Batsman Cameron Bancroft was handed a nine-month ban for his part in the affair and is scheduled to return to action at the end of December.
The Australian Cricketers’ Association have always contested the bans were overly-harsh and have continued to push for all three to be able to return to representative cricket immediately.
Those calls intensified after a cultural review into Cricket Australia last month that suggested that the culture fostered in the game by the governing body had contributed to the incident in a test against South Africa.
That review led to the resignation of chairman David Peever, who had forcefully maintained that the players should see out the full terms of their suspensions.
Sydney’s Daily Telegraph on Monday reported that “serious discussions” had taken place among senior officials over allowing the players to return to state cricket, adding that the board would consider lifting the suspensions this week.
Smith and Warner are two of the best batsmen in world cricket and the debate over their bans is being played out against the backdrop of Australia’s continued struggles in all formats of the men’s game.
With Australia’s defence of the 50-overs World Cup starting in England at the end of May and the defence of the Ashes following in August and September, there is clearly a desire among some Down Under to get the duo back as soon as possible.
Both have been keeping their hand in by playing Sydney club cricket and have received praise in local media for the way they have conducted themselves.
Smith and Warner have both been retained by their franchises in the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) for the next version of the competition, which starts on March 29.
Australia take on India in the first of three Twenty20 internationals in Brisbane on Wednesday looking to snap a run of four consecutive defeats in the format.
They then face the tourists, who are top of the world rankings, in four tests over December and January looking to avoid what would be a first ever home series loss to India.