IPL 2019: Steve Smith Checks Into Rajasthan Royals Camp
Australia cricketer Steve Smith has checked into the Rajasthan Royals camp to play the 2019 IPL after missing out on the season last year.
The former Australian and Royals’ captain landed at the Jaipur airport on Sunday and will play this season under the captaincy of Ajinkya Rahane.
“Great to be back here in Jaipur with the Royals family, and I can’t wait for this year’s edition of the IPL to start,” said Smith in a video posted by the franchise.
Smith has not played international cricket since last March 2018 when he was banned by Cricket Australia for his involvement in the ball tampering scandal in South Africa.
While his suspension runs out on 28 March, Smith will not be joining the Aussie team in the UAE for the ODI series against Pakistan and instead play the IPL with the Royals who start their campaign on 25 March against Kings XI Punjab at home.
Royals’ brand ambassador Shane Warne said the former skipper will be as "hungry as ever".
"He (Smith) will be so excited to turn up and play cricket. That's what he loves doing and that's what he is very very good at. Smith and Warner are two of the best players in world cricket, I think Smith will be giving a lot and integrate with the team," said the former Royal himself.
With rising sensation Ashton Turner unavailable for the first three games for Royals due to international commitments against Pakistan, Smith along with Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer will be key overseas players for the 2008 champions.
Playing for Rajasthan Royals will be a huge thing for Smith as this is the only cricket he will be playing before the World Cup, where he will make an international comeback.
"Having Smith's experience around and his hunger and passion as the only cricket that is before World Cup, will be a big thing for him. I have no doubt that Smith and Warner will get back to their best as they were before," Warne said.
Smith along with David Warner were both in Dubai for the last few days meeting the Australian team for the first time since the tampering controversy. They were invited there by coach Justin Langer as part of their re-integration following the bans.
"It's great to be back around the group, they've been really welcoming and almost like we've never left," said Steve Smith after meeting his team-mates.
"It's been awesome. It's like we didn't really leave, the boys were very accepting of us coming in and with open arms," said Warner.