CA brings Smith, Warner together again
Steve Smith and David Warner have taken the first tentative step towards their own personal rehabilitation.
As the banned duo prepare to fly to Dubai to reintegrate with the wider Australian squad, The Daily Telegraph understands that the two stars have already met together in mediation as part of a small group.
Cricket Australia have used a leadership consultant to meet with players and staff individually and in groups as part of a comprehensive process to heal the wounds of the ball-tampering scandal before Smith and Warner's anticipated returns for the World Cup in May.
Few individual relationships within the team dynamic could be considered more vital to the hopes of a successful restoration in Australian cricket than that of the deposed captain and vice-captain.
From the moment Smith and Warner were booked on different flights to return home from South Africa in the middle of last year's sandpaper storm, many predicted it could be a long way back for their relationship.
But the importance of specifically getting Smith and Warner back in the same room has not been lost in Cricket Australia's reintegration process.
It's understood the high-profile pair were grouped together for one of the small-group meeting sessions to have already taken place behind the scenes in recent weeks.
Warner has publicly denied any angst between he and Smith, and the recent meeting is not the first time they've been in the same room together since Cape Town.
They were spotted having coffee together in Toronto last July during a Canadian T20 tournament and they have also crossed paths in Bangladesh, in Sydney grade cricket and at other times.
However, during their many individual net sessions with Australian and NSW players over the past months, the fact they have never once been spotted training or batting together has been conspicuous.
According to key figures involved, Warner deserves significant praise for the attitude he has displayed over the course of his ban.
Cricket officials have credited Warner for truly getting himself outside the bubble and believe he has taken a healthy approach to getting his head around what happened in South Africa and constructively moving forward.
Aside from the elbow injury which has troubled him in recent weeks, Warner is otherwise considered to be in the best shape of his career and his approach to training and grade cricket has stood out to those involved with it.
He has blasted centuries throughout the summer and his robust personality has made a strong impression.
Smith has made a big impact at his Sutherland grade club and also has his recovery from elbow surgery on track thanks to his trademark focus and diligence to training.
Meanwhile, NSW and Victoria are locked in an absorbing top-of-the-table Sheffield Shield battle at Drummoyne Oval, with rain threatening the final two days.
The Blues took a 29-run first-innings lead, before a Matt Short half century helped Victoria to 7-159 at stumps on day two - giving them a 130-run advantage in a low-scoring clash.
NSW quick Harry Conway continued on from his five-wicket first-innings haul to take three in the second dig, including the key scalp of Short.