The Australia ball-tampering scandal one year on: Have the batsmen filled the Smith-Warner void?

By Sports Desk March 25, 2019

Australia have played 43 games across all formats in the time Steve Smith and David Warner have been banned - and the statistics suggest the two should have no problem walking back into the XI for the upcoming Ashes.

Ex-captain Smith and former vice-captain Warner are available to be selected for their country again from this week when the 12-month bans for their roles in the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal come to an end.

Here, with the help of Opta, we take a look at how Australia's batsmen have fared across all three formats over the past year without the duo.

 

TESTS (P9 W3 D2 L4)

The first Test without Smith, Warner and Cameron Bancroft, who was given a nine-month ban for his part in the saga, ended in a 492-run loss to South Africa as the Proteas wrapped up a 3-1 series success.

Matthew Renshaw was one of those drafted in for that final match in Johannesburg, but having scored a cumulative 13 across two innings, he has not appeared in a Test since. 

Peter Handscomb initially filled Smith's spot at four and averaged fewer than 19 across seven innings, though Joe Burns was one of the success stories, the opener's 180 against Sri Lanka last month helping him to an average of 50 over the past year.

Travis Head (51) had a better average than Burns in that time, but openers Aaron Finch (27.8) and Marcus Harris (32.7) were unable to replicate Warner (48.2), particularly when they struggled in a 2-1 home series loss to India.

Having made his Test debut in October, Marnus Labuschagne batted at four in the recent two-match series with Sri Lanka, yet his average of 26.3 pales in comparison with Smith's 61.4.

 

ODIS (P18 W7 L11)

With a World Cup on English soil looming on the horizon later in 2019, Australia's 50-over fortunes were looking grim as little as three weeks ago.

A five-match series in India began with defeats in the opening two matches, meaning the world champions had lost 11 of 13 ODIs since the Newlands scandal.

But a stunning comeback sealed a 3-2 win over Virat Kohli's men, and Australia have continued that momentum in the UAE, where successive Finch hundreds mean the tourists lead Pakistan 2-0 in a best-of-five contest.

Those centuries have lifted Finch's ODI average across the past year to 39.4, while the likes of Usman Khawaja (60.9), Shaun Marsh (59.3) and Handscomb (52.1) have all benefitted from opportunities they may not otherwise have had.

Two months out from the start of the World Cup, the holders appear to be finding form at just the right time, and the returns of Smith and Warner will leave head coach Justin Langer nursing a welcome selection headache.

 

TWENTY20S (P16 W7 L8 NR1)

Smith's ban had little effect on his nation's T20 form - the 29-year-old having not featured in that format since March 2016 - yet Warner left a bigger void to fill having scored more than any other Australian in the shortest format.

Despite that, four leading batsmen averaged more than Warner's 26.7 over the previous 12 months.

Finch amassed 465 runs, though that total comes with the caveat that 324 of those were accrued in his first three innings. In his past 13 T20 knocks for Australia, Finch has averaged only 10.8.

All-rounder Glenn Maxwell (averaging 34), D'Arcy Short (28.3) and Head (27.3) were the others to shine in Warner and Smith's absences.

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