Former Australia captain Steve Waugh said on Tuesday that Australian cricket needs former captain Steve Smith back in the squad. Waugh also believes that Smith will be welcomed back with open arms. Smith and David Warner are serving one-year suspensions from international and state cricket for their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal against South Africa in March. Cameron Bancroft, the third cricketer involved in the scandal, was banned for only nine months. "We need him back in Australian cricket," AFP quoted Waugh as saying to Fox Sports Australia.
"You can't lose someone of his quality overnight and expect to replace it and he's still only relatively young," Waugh said.
All three players accepted responsibility for the scandal that rocked the sport, with Smith's tearful apology on his arrival back in Australia tugging at the heartstrings.
Waugh said fans "still adore him" and they will move past what happened before.
"The Australian public, they are forgiving. He (Smith) made a mistake and he's paid a heavy price for it," Waugh remarked.
"But if he gets back out there and plays with the same enthusiasm and passion, he loves playing cricket, he loves scoring runs, he wants to get back playing for Australia, I think Australians will move past what happened before," Waugh further added.
"They obviously remember it, but they're big enough to realise you can make a mistake and grow from that and be stronger."
Australia's World Cup-winning captain also hoped that Warner got a second chance.
"I hope so, you have to give guys an opportunity to redeem themselves. They've apologised and paid a heavy price," Waugh said.
"It's going to be a challenge for all of them to come back, it's not going to be as easy as people think. You're out for 12 months, the game does move on, you lose that aura of invincibility a little bit, you become a bit more fragile, a bit of self-doubt creeps in. So it's going to be a real challenge for all three of those guys to come back strong," Waugh further added.
(With AFP inputs)