Australia batter Steven Smith calls David Warner's lifetime ban from leadership roles "fundamentally wrong." Warner was slapped with the ban for his involvement in the ball tampering scandal in 2018 in Cape Town. Smith, who was Australia captain then has however led the side on a couple of occasions since then, most recently in the day-night Test against West Indies in Adelaide.
Cricket Australia (CA) wanted a public hearing of the entire episode after Warner had appealed against the ban, but decided to pull out in the end as he did not want his family and teammates dragged through the mud once again.
"From my point of view, banning for life from leadership is just fundamentally wrong," Smith said after Australia comprehensive 419-run victory over West Indies in the second Test, according to ESPNCricinfo.
"David served his time like I did. For us, we know he's a leader around the group, and on and off the field he's doing a tremendous job."
Warner in his four innings in a high-scoring series against West Indies has managed just 5, 48, 21 and 28. He has not been in particularly good form over the last two years, averaging a shade over 28, but Smith is hopeful that the southpaw could put the distractions behind and come good against South Africa, against whom he averages a healthy 52.
"It's been a difficult one for him, it's been a difficult week," Smith said.
"It has been more of a distraction for Davey, no doubt, going through that himself. David has said he's done and dusted and get on with it. He's got our full support. Hopefully he can have a really big series for us against South Africa with the bat."
Smith, who registered a rare duck in Adelaide, remains hopeful that he gets back into the groove for the South Africa Tests. This will be the first time Smith and Warner will go toe to toe with the Proteas since the infamous sandpapergate episode.
"I'm really excited," Smith said.
"South Africa is probably the one team, they've bowled pretty well to me in the past, my record is probably not quite as good against them as some of the others.
"Some of the bowlers I'll come up against, I've come up against previously. I'm really looking forward to the series like everyone else. Hopefully, I can get into a nice groove."
Australia currently sit top of the World Test Championship (WTC) table, while South Africa sit just below them. The three-match Test series, starting December 17 at The Gabba could very well be pivotal in deciding who could play the final next year at The Oval.