Warner comeback hopes fading fast
DAVID Warner's hopes of an instant return when his year-long ban expires next month are fading fast, with Brisbane rather than Dubai shaping as the most likely scene of the former vice-captain's formal reintegration.
Warner and Steve Smith, who continue to keep low profiles as they both recover from elbow surgery, are nearing the end of life-changing punishments handed down by Cricket Australia after the Cape Town cheating scandal.
The gifted batsmen will be free to play the final two games of next month's five-match ODI series in the UAE, where Australia face Pakistan on March 29 and 31.
That UAE touring party is yet to be finalised but it's understood Australia's most likely plan is for Warner to be overlooked, meaning he would instead step up World Cup preparations in the Indian Premier League.
Smith, as reported by AAP when the sacked skipper first suffered his injury in early January, won't be fit in time for the UAE series and will target an IPL return.
Former Aussie skipper Michael Clarke backed the pair's return and expected them to fire for the green and gold immediately.
"They'll scores runs, there is no doubt about (it). They'll walk back into that team and perform straight away," Clarke said in an interview with Fox Sports.
However, the 37-year-old warned fans of placing too much pressure on the pair to singlehandedly dig Australia out of its hole after a lacklustre home summer.
"We're putting a lot of expectations and a lot of pressure on Steve Smith and David Warner to come back (and) all of our problems will be fixed when they come back," Clarke said.
"The reality is we have got to No.5 in the world with Smith and Warner in the team. Sports teams are a lot bigger than one or two players."
Smith and Warner are instead set to come together as part of Australia's World Cup squad, for a pre-tournament training camp in Brisbane that will be held in early May and include some practice games against New Zealand.
Such a scenario would allow Australia to manage every step of the reintegration process in a controlled environment at the Allan Border Field training base.
CA is yet to reveal details about what boxes Smith and Warner must tick, on and off the field, to show they're ready to return for a marathon tour of England, where Australia will defend both the World Cup and the Ashes.
But barring any fresh setbacks in recovery, they are both expected to be included in Australia's 15-man World Cup squad.
Australia must submit their World Cup squad by April 23 but are free to make changes without needing special approval until May 23.
National coach Justin Langer recently indicated his team would be "crazy not to" call on the services of Smith and Warner in the 50-over tournament, and Pat Cummins suggested earlier this week that the disgraced duo's return would be seamless.
Langer and CA chief executive Kevin Roberts, who along with interim team-performance boss Belinda Clark are managing the pair's reintegration process, both acknowledged this summer that the momentous comebacks of Smith and Warner could potentially come in the UAE.
There were strong arguments for bringing the pair back as soon as possible, which would have given players a chance to heal strained relationships long before turning their attention to the World Cup camp.
But logistics and other factors counted against Warner, who would have been unable to train with teammates until his suspension expired.
- with AAP