The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - SUNDAY SPORT - JU­LIAN LIN­DEN

DAVID Warner has pleaded for an end to the ar­gu­ing over whether Aus­tralia’s banned trio should have their sus­pen­sions re­duced so they can be fast-tracked into the strug­gling na­tional team.

As Warner laughed off sug­ges­tions of a feud with Steve Smith, the ex­plo­sive opener said the in­creas­ingly bit­ter de­bate over whether their lengthy bans should be re­duced was un­der­min­ing the cur­rent team.

“At the end of the day, I’m sit­ting here for 12 months on the side­line,” Warner said at Coogee Oval, in his first pub­lic com­ments in Aus­tralia since the ball­tam­per­ing scan­dal in South Africa.

“That’s my take on it and that’s why I want ev­ery­one to keep be­ing pos­i­tive about the guys who are play­ing (for Aus­tralia) and pump them up be­cause we can’t just sit here and say they’re go­ing to be in, they’re not go­ing to be in.”

De­spite Warner’s best in­ten­tions, the is­sue isn’t go­ing away af­ter the Aus­tralian Crick­eters’ As­so­ci­a­tion ini­ti­ated an ap­peal on their be­half, which has only deep­ened the pub­lic’s divi­sion.

Cricket Aus­tralia had pre­vi­ously rejected the no­tion of re­duc­ing the sus­pen­sions for Warner, Smith and Cameron Ban­croft, but in the wake of the damn­ing Longstaff re­view and the high-pro­file ex­its from CA, noth­ing can be ruled out.

“What the ACA do is they are rep­re­sen­ta­tives for us and we thank them for their sup­port,” Warner said. “At the end of the day it’s quite fickle with the union or the ACA and Cricket Aus­tralia. As play­ers we’re here to do a job and that’s to play pre­mier cricket and work our back­sides off to make cricket a fun game.”

Smith main­tained si­lence af­ter his Suther­land team beat Warner’s Rand­wick-Peter­sham club by three wick­ets yes­ter­day.

The pair shook hands be­fore and af­ter the Syd­ney grade match and chat­ted sev­eral times on the field, with Warner say­ing the two were in reg­u­lar con­tact.

“There’s been a lot of me­dia talk that we don’t get along and that I’ve thrown him un­der the bus here and there, but it’s good com­edy for us be­cause we just sit back and laugh,” he said.

Warner said both he and Smith were en­joy­ing play­ing grade cricket again be­cause it had re­minded them why they loved the game so much.

With their fam­i­lies watch­ing from be­hind the bound­ary fence, the ugly fall­out from “Sand­pa­per­gate” seemed a mil­lion miles away as Aus­tralia’s two best bats­men hap­pily min­gled with the big crowd af­ter their highly an­tic­i­pated clash at Coogee Oval.

Smith won their bat­ting duel when he made a pa­tient 48, while Warner de­parted cheaply for 13.

Smith hit just two bound­aries be­fore he was stumped while Warner also spanked just two fours be­fore he cut a wide ball from Steve Waugh’s son, Austin, straight to back­ward point.

Both men trudged back to the pav­il­ion, shak­ing their heads al­most apolo­get­i­cally to the big crowd that had come out to see them play, be­fore aton­ing by spend­ing ex­tra time sign­ing au­to­graphs and chat­ting with pa­trons.

“It just puts it in per­spec­tive, we’ve been liv­ing in a bub­ble for a long time

and it’s great just to come back and en­joy cricket and re­mind your­self that’s it a fun game,” Warner said.

“That word play hard gets thrown a lot and a lot of peo­ple are talk­ing about our be­hav­iours, but at the end of the day we’re try­ing to play the game hard but in the right spirit and it’s quite chal­leng­ing at times when you’re in the mid­dle.

“But this brings a bit of a sense of re­al­ity back to you.”

For­mer Test all-rounder Shane Wat­son was in dev­as­tat­ing form for Suther­land, smash­ing five fours and five sixes, while English im­port Daniel Bell-Drum­mond made a stylish 106.

Even if they have to com­plete their full 12-month bans, Warner and Smith will back in time for next year’s World Cup and the Ashes, and Warner said he wanted back in.

“Ob­vi­ously the long form re­sult is to get back into the baggy green and play the World Cup, but it’s a game at a time,” Warner said. “What hap­pened was very dis­ap­point­ing, we put our hands up and we are ashamed of what hap­pened, but we’re here to try and keep pro­mot­ing cricket.”

Suther­land’s Steve Smith plays a shot be­fore a big crowd at Coogee Oval yes­ter­day. Pic­tures: Getty Im­ages, Jenny EvansDavid Warner and Smith share a laugh and a hand­shake af­ter the match.

Warner with his wife Candice, and daugh­ter, Indi Rae.

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