CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - The lengthy bans meted out to Australia’s Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft on Wednesday rule them out of an end-of-year series against top-ranked India that could rival the intensity of their scandal-ridden tour to South Africa.
Smith and Warner will not be available for Australia until April next year, while Bancroft’s nine-month ban will last until early 2019.
The next 12 months will continue a busy list of commitments for Australia, according to the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) future tours programme, not least a mouth-watering match-up with India, including the traditional Boxing Day test in Melbourne and equally well-attended New Year’s affair in Sydney.
The match-up of Smith’s captaincy and batting acumen against that of Indian skipper Virat Kohli is now lost in the wake of the punishment for the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
It should have some diminishing effect on a series that will still be vital to India’s status as the top ranked test-playing nation and the growing belief this generation is the best test side the country has yet produced.
But Indian touring teams have traditionally struggled Down Under and any claims India have to being the best would be severely tested on the Australian wickets.
Over the next 12 months, Australia have 12 test matches, 29 One Day Internationals and seven Twenty20 internationals scheduled.
The bans, announced by Cricket Australia in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town at the weekend, are due to end before next year’s World Cup in England and Wales, which starts on May 30, followed by the Ashes series in England.
Australia are next due to travel to England for five ODIs and a single T20 game in June. Warner had captained Australia’s T20 team.
The ICC then has Australia down for a test and three ODIs in Zimbabwe but this is not likely to happen given the precarious financial state of the game in Zimbabwe, Reuters has learnt.
Australia then host Bangladesh in two tests and three ODIs in August before playing away against Pakistan in a five match ODI series and then hosting South Africa in a similar limited overs series in November.
After India’s tour, the 25-year-old Bancroft will be available for selection when Sri Lanka visit Australia in early 2019 for two tests and three ODIs before Australia travel to India for five ODIs and two T20 matches, which have already been scheduled between Feb. 24 and March 13.
The last test series that falls inside the period of Smith and Warner’s ban will be away against Pakistan in March next year.
Their ban also ruled out participation for the pair in this year’s Indian Premier League but minutes before the Australian sanctions were handed down, the IPL announced neither would be welcome this year.
Editing by Christian Radnedge