Australia may have to take the rough with the smooth in Smith and Warner's absence

Steve Smith and David Warner have been banned for a year, leaving Australia with a quandary over their battling line-up.

Australia duo Steve Smith and David Warner   -  Getty Images

Australia may have no problem finding a new "leadership group" but the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner will leave two huge voids in their batting line-up.

Smith and Warner were on Wednesday banned from international and Australian domestic cricket for 12 months for their part in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal.

A Cricket Australia investigation came to the conclusion that vice-captain Warner instigated the plan to tamper with the ball and instructed Cameron Bancroft how to go about doing the deed on day three of the third Test against South Africa.

Skipper Smith was ruled to have had knowledge of the plot for Bancroft to use sandpaper in an attempt to alter the condition of the ball, a breach which resulted in a nine-month suspension for the opener.

The trio have the right to appeal against their sanctions, but if they accept the punishment Australia will be missing two of the best batsman in the world for at least a year.

Bancroft is still making his way in international cricket, and Matt Renshaw can step in with a point to prove after being dropped for the Ashes.

But how Australia go about replacing Smith and Warner is another matter altogether. 

The shamed skipper has drawn comparisons to the great Don Bradman, averaging a remarkable 61.37 in Tests to top the rankings.

It is only a few months since Smith inspired his side to a 4-0 Ashes hammering of England, scoring 687 runs at an average of 137.40 - including a magnificent double-century at the WACA.

Warner averages 48.20 in the longest format and is third in the ODI rankings, proving time and again to be one of the most destructive batsmen in the game at the top of the order.

Much was made of the dilemmas facing the selectors ahead of the Ashes, but they made some big calls that paid off as the likes of Tim Paine - who has replaced Smith as skipper in South Africa - and Shaun Marsh capitalised on their recalls.

They must now go back to the drawing board again with a Test series against India among the challenges Australia face without the prolific Smith and Warner.

Glenn Maxwell and Joe Burns flew out to South Africa ahead of the fourth Test with another unexpected opportunity to prove they can cut it at Test level, as dark clouds hang over Australian cricket.

Australia were not the polished article before Bancroft applied the fateful sandpaper and they may have to take plenty of rough with the smooth in compiling a new-look batting line-up.

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