Steve Smith, David Warner face off in Sydney grade cricket match while serving suspension
Steve Smith (right) directs fielders in the slips, as David Warner prepares to bat. (AAP: Craig Golding)
Steve Smith has fallen just short of a half-century for Sutherland in his Sydney grade cricket match against David Warner’s Randwick Petersham, with fans overflowing onto a packed Coogee Oval.
- Steve Smith and David Warner are serving 12-month suspensions imposed by Cricket Australia
- Smith made 48 for Sutherland and Warner scored 13 for Randwick Petersham
- Smith and Warner will potentially be available for selection for next year’s World Cup
It is the first time Smith and Warner have faced off in New South Wales’ premier grade competition since they were both banned for 12 months by Cricket Australia for their role in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa earlier this year.
In front of an unprecedented 2,000-strong crowd, which left some sitting between the fence and rope, former Test teammate Shane Watson overshadowed the suspended pair with a 41-ball 63 for Sutherland.
But while Watson thrilled the masses with five maximums, all the attention was on Smith and Warner as they posed for photos, signed autographs and were cheered throughout the day.
“This is unbelievable,” said Randwick Petersham president and retired Test fast bowler Mike Whitney.
“It just shows if you can get these guys back playing club cricket, how much interest it evokes in club cricket.”
David Warner (left) shakes hands with Shane Watson before play at Coogee Oval. (AAP: Craig Golding)
Such was the interest in the match, Randwick Petersham even flew a family from country Victoria to have their young son be Warner’s shadow for the day after he had written to the club describing him as his hero.
“I think I would have to go back to the the 1970s or early ’80s when I was playing first grade when we would have had something like it,” Whitney said.
“We would have had something like Alan Turner, John Dyson and Ron Crippin and myself with a couple of other young up-and-coming players who went on to play Shield cricket and that sort of stuff, and then the opposition having the same.
“But now, it’s usually a sprinkling in the stand, and then 15 or 20 here with wives and parents.”
@Shell_Cooling3 tweets: Popped down to my local, Coogee Oval. Huge crowd in to watch Steve Smith bat, they are even watching from the balconies!
Ex-Australia teammate Mitchell Johnson was also in attendance, as was former Australia captain Steve Waugh, who was watching his son Austin.
After Warner was earlier caught at gully for 13, slashing at one outside off stump from the younger Waugh as Randwick posted 261, Smith was more circumspect in his knock.
His 48 came off 71 balls as he hit two boundaries down the ground.
Smith had also earlier taken a wicket with the ball, having English county representative Daniel Bell-Drummond caught behind after he had scored a match-high 106.
Warner and Smith are free to return to the national set-up at the end of March, with their first match back likely to come in next year’s one-day World Cup in England.