Stuart Law believes disgraced Australia stars Steve Smith and David Warner will have a better idea of “what life is all about” after playing club cricket as he called for their return to international duty as soon they complete year-long bans.
Australia captain Smith and Warner, his deputy, were both given 12-month suspensions from state and international fixtures by Cricket Australia for their roles in a ball-tampering scandal during a Test match in South Africa in March last year.
Australia have since slipped to fifth in the world Test rankings and, in the absence of world-class batsmen Smith and Warner, recently suffered a first home series defeat by India.
But the CA bans did not include club games, with Smith playing for Sutherland against a Randwick-Petersham side featuring Warner in a Sydney grade match in September.
“Australia definitely have got the talent, I think we’ve just lost track of what’s important,” said former Australia batsman Law, the new coach of Middlesex.
“When I first started playing grade cricket in Brisbane, as a 15-year-old (I was) sharing a dressing room with (Australia batsmen) Allan Border, Greg Ritchie, Kepler Wessels — that doesn’t happen much anymore, the Test players don’t really play club cricket.
“Once they are away from international duties, they are wrapped up in cotton wool and put away.
“But kids coming through learn from guys who’ve done it before. I think David Warner and Steve Smith playing club cricket this (Australian) summer has not only given them an idea of what life is really about, but it’s also helping the young kids they have been playing with now to improve,” he added.
“They are still very much looked up to in Australia as cricketers and they are two very fine players,” insisted Law, who played one Test and 54 one-day internationals while averaging over 50 in first-class cricket.
– ‘Australia could do worse’ –
“Australia could do worse than get them straight back in.” Law, who has joined Middlesex on a four-year deal, stood down as the West Indies head coach in September, having previously been in charge of both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
He would like West Indies batsman Shai Hope to follow such Caribbean greats as Hampshire’s Gordon Greenidge and Malcolm Marshall and Somerset’s Vivian Richards and Joel Garner, in playing county cricket.
But Law, who enjoyed successful county stints as a player with both Essex and Lancashire, said adding the 2019 World Cup in England to an already congested international schedule made it even more difficult to bring top overseas players into the English domestic game.
“Shai Hope would be one I would target, not only because he’s a champion young man, but he can play the game and he wants to live and breathe cricket. But he is going to be caught up in the World Cup.”
While Law was excited both by being based at the “best ground in the world” and the challenge of getting Middlesex promoted to the First Division of the County Championship, a major part of the appeal of his new job was living in the same country as his wife and teenage son.
“This Christmas was the first time I spent time with my wife and my son, on a 10-day period without any interruptions for the first time in 10 years,” explained Law.