Chapelli: Steve was more guilty than Dave
STEVE Smith and David Warner are officially forgiven now they've been selected in the World Cup squad.
There would've been a huge sigh of relief when the name Warner appeared on the team sheet and I don't necessarily mean from the player himself.
Warner has been extremely disciplined in keeping his mouth shut and creating a lot of noise with his bat while he's been in exile from the Australian team.
Nevertheless there was always the feeling that if he had been shunned by Cricket Australia on completing his suspension, then he might break his silence.
That would have made a lot of people nervous, from the other players and coaching staff who were in South Africa, right up to the highest reaches of CA as it was constituted when the ball tampering offence was committed.
I've never been able to understand the public hostility towards Warner while Smith has been afforded much compassion.
If anything Smith was more guilty than Warner. He was the captain and by saying "I don't want to know" when he was confronted by the sight of sandpaper in the dressing room he was guilty of totally abrogating his duty.
Now all CA has to worry about is the reintegration of the pair into the team and this shouldn't be a problem as both players are head and shoulders above their teammates when it comes to batting.
Any player who has a problem with the duo's return should be asked; "Do you want to win and accept the kudos and cash that will bring?"
If the answer is "Yes," he then needs to be told to just get on with doing his job.
In the space of a few months Australia has gone from a struggling one-day international side to a team with pleasant selection headaches and a realistic chance to successfully defend their World Cup crown.
Warner should step straight back into the opening partnership with skipper Aaron Finch. Any suggestion of Warner moving down the order is illogical; you don't waste the psychological advantage the dynamic left-hander provides at the top of the order.
As an opener, Warner makes opposing bowlers and captains nervous and that is an advantage you don't squander.
With Smith slotting back in at number three that leaves one selection quandary over the remaining frontline batsman. This is a straight decision between the left-handers Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja.
Khawaja's best value is as an opener and therefore I'd bat Marsh at four to be followed by all-rounders Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis.
That leaves Alex Carey to handle the wicketkeeping duties, followed by four frontline bowlers.
Pat Cummins is a must, as is a fully fit Mitchell Starc and the third fast bowling spot will be a choice between Jhye Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jason Behrendorff. That place will depend on conditions and current form.
Adam Zampa's recent surge of form should see him rated as the first choice spinner.
However with the likelihood the pitches will suffer from fatigue as the tournament reaches the latter stages, Nathan Lyon could be included if a dual spin attack is considered the best option.
The one factor mitigating against Lyon's selection will be the value of Maxwell's off-spin bowling.
His recent five-wicket haul for Lancashire in County Cricket will have done his confidence the world of good and perhaps hurt Lyon's chances.
It's a strong squad with plenty of options, a power-laden batting line-up and a bowling attack designed to seek wickets.
The teams that take wickets at regular intervals, especially through the middle overs, will be the ones most likely to reach the semi-finals.
The omission of Josh Hazlewood is understandable with his injury having left him desperately short of game time.
On the plus side this means he'll be fresh for the Ashes series that follows and with James Pattinson's successful return from injury, Australia will feature an exceedingly strong pace attack.
From the depths of gloom during the summer the Australian side has quickly risen back to prominence. With Smith and Warner bolstering the batting stocks Australia now has a realistic chance of completing a unique double; winning a World Cup and reclaiming the Ashes, all in one English summer.