Why Warner and Smith's return now has extra significance

Scott Bailey

Steve Smith and David Warner's possible returns to the Australian cricket team for next year's Ashes are set to coincide with the start of the ICC's Test championship.

The ICC last week set a 2019 start date for the two-year championship, culminating in a final between the top two teams in 2021 in England.

Next year's Ashes are seen as the ideal starting point for the tournament, given it is the first Test series of the 2019 season and falls immediately after the one-day World Cup.

"This summer is the last season of the Futures Tour cricket as we know it, in that we move to the Test championship with the Ashes in July of 2019," Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland told SEN radio this week.

"It will be the first series of the Test championship."

The possible returns of Smith and Warner from their 12-month bans for both global tournaments will fit nicely for an Australian line-up lacking top-order batting experience.

Warner and Smith. Image: Getty

Opener Cameron Bancroft will also be available for selection for next year's Ashes, and will be able to play in the second half of this year's Australian domestic summer after his nine-month suspension stemming from the ball-tampering saga.

Full details of the Championship are yet to be announced, however the ICC confirmed last week each team would play three home-and-away series over the course of the tournament.

Sutherland was also hopeful the introduction of the championship would help allow Australia to host more pink-ball Tests without opposition from visiting sides.

Sutherland is still trying to push a day-night Test in Adelaide across the line for this summer's home series against India. But the December fixture was left with a yet-to-be confirmed date when the schedule was released earlier this week.

"We're hoping there will be some kind of regulation in there that allows home teams to fixture at least one day-night Test match," Sutherland said.

"As we know, the Adelaide Test in that day-night format has been a huge success.

"It is the way of the future. India may or may not come around to that idea for this tour but I still believe it's the way of the future and I think everyone in world cricket knows that."