Smith: I’ll be fit for World Cup campaign
STEVE Smith has declared he will be at "full tilt" for Australia's World Cup assault.
The returning star allayed fears about his suspect elbow with a robust net session in Sydney on Tuesday, and claimed afterwards he would be cherry ripe if picked to help defend Australia's one-day crown.
There have been severe doubts in cricket circles about whether Smith would be able to throw the ball at the World Cup so soon after serious surgery, but the 29-year-old is adamant that even on that front he will be fully fit come the start of Australia's campaign in the UK on June 1.
David Warner meanwhile, is fresh from a blazing grade century in his return from his own elbow surgery.
He also batted on Tuesday, in 36 degree heat and humidity at Australia's high performance centre in Brisbane, as details emerged of the planned reintegration of the two banned stars in the UAE in the coming days.
Warner and Smith will have a fly-in-and-fly-out 24-hour visit with the Australian squad in the UAE on their way to India, where they are due to report for training camps with their respective IPL franchises by the end of the weekend.
Reintegrating the exiled pair back into the team environment remains a key step, but the sight of Smith facing fast bowling for the first time following his surgery without discomfort on Tuesday, and even looking free when opening the shoulders slogging, comes as the more fundamental boost to Australia's World Cup hopes.
"The elbow feels really good, this was the first time I've faced fast bowling in the nets and it's all coming along really nicely," Smith said.
"I did some range hitting and I feel like I've got my full movement and range.
"I strap the elbow up when I'm batting but otherwise it's all good, I'm out of the brace.
"I've been in the nets a few times now facing the 'wanger' and it's all on track for me to play the first game of the IPL (in a fortnight) if I'm picked.
"The plan is that I'll gradually start throwing again during the IPL and I'll be full tilt by the time the World Cup rolls around (again if selected)."
The invitation extended to Smith and Warner to be part of a meeting in the UAE that is expected to set the tone for Australia's huge five months ahead, reinforces how paramount they are seen to be for the World Cup and Ashes campaigns.
The concept of them being back in the full squad environment is significant, but might not be the huge icebreaking moment it might have been had the groundwork not already been put in by Justin Langer over the summer.
The sight of Smith and Warner mingling and training with Australian teammates such as Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc has become commonplace at NSW headquarters over recent months and should take the edge off the full class reunion.
Smith and Warner will not train with the squad in the UAE, they're simply there to catch up with the players, and management felt the best timing for that would be now rather than at a pre-World Cup camp in Brisbane in May.
It's understood Smith and Warner have already been involved in a series of individual and small-group meetings with Australian staff and players.