Starc: Suspended Smith will return to Test best

Mitchell Starc thinks Australia's Steve Smith can once again be Test cricket's best batsman when he returns after Virat Kohli overtook him.

Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc   -  Getty Images

Steve Smith may have lost his place as the world's best Test batsman to Virat Kohli, but Mitchell Starc has backed the Australian to rediscover his form when he returns from his ban.

India captain Kohli has replaced Smith at the top of the ICC Test batting rankings after he scored 200 runs across two innings against England at Edgbaston.

Smith had been the world's leading batsman in the longest format for 32 months but the 29-year-old has not featured for his country since March after Cricket Australia gave him a 12-month ban for his role in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal.

David Warner was also handed a year-long suspension, while Cameron Bancroft is serving a nine-month sanction from all international and Australian grade cricket, and Starc is confident all three can be back to their best once they return.

"Knowing Steve over the last few years - and actually even longer around the New South Wales set-up as well - he's a tireless worker," Starc told Omnisport.

"He hits more balls than anyone, he just loves the game of cricket.

"I've no doubt that he and the other two can be back to the top of their games and scoring hundreds and dominating bowling attacks around the world again."

Smith, Warner and Bancroft all had to face the music in a series of emotional press conferences when the scandal unravelled during the Test series with South Africa.

All three have since returned to the game – Smith and Warner in the Global T20 Canada and Bancroft at club-cricket level in Australia – and Starc is pleased to see the trio back.

"It was a tough few weeks - seeing all three of the guys, you wouldn't wish upon anyone," he added.

"They're back in cricket now, which is great to see all three of them playing cricket.

"Cam's in Darwin and Dave and Steve have been playing in Canada. It's great to see the three guys back in cricket, a game they love.

"Come end of March next year they can come back into Australian cricket and get back on with their careers and keep dominating the way they have."

Australia have not played a Test since the final match in South Africa, which Smith, Warner and Bancroft all missed.

Starc was also absent due to a stress fracture in his leg, which ensured he missed the Indian Premier League campaign, but the 28-year-old is hoping he can return to fitness in time for Australia's next five-day fixture against Pakistan in October.

"If all's going well and stays on track as it is I'll be available for selection for that tour," Starc said.

"Hopefully I can get on that one and get back into cricket. It's been a long and slow process - one I'm all too familiar with unfortunately.

"I've been bowling for a few weeks now. It's progressing nicely, perhaps [at] full pace run-up and full intensity in a week or two weeks."

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