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Former Test opener Phil Jaques keen to utilise Smith and Warner | Cricket Bats | Cricket Bat News

Jaques, a former teammate of the pair and long-time friend of Smith going back to their Sutherland days, said he wanted have the duo around the squad as much as possible.

“When the time is right for them, we’ll work alongside Cricket Australia to try and utilise them as best we can,” Jaques said. “They’re both two fantastic players with great experience. I think we’d be mad not to use them.

“They’ve both been fantastic players for NSW over the last 10 years. They’re great professionals, they have made a mistake, they’ve paid the price for that.”

Smith and Warner are banned from playing for the Blues in the upcoming season but will be able to get time in the middle in grade cricket.

Jaques said it was his understanding Cricket Australia’s ban would stand despite calls for the pair to be able to participate at domestic level.

“We’ll be trying to prepare them for whatever cricket they’ve got coming up,” Jaques said. “They’re going to be playing some club cricket which will be fantastic for the system as a whole. It will be just great to see them with cricket bats in hand again playing the game they love.

“When the time is right they’ll be welcomed back with open arms.”

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With the likes of Nic Maddinson and Gurinder Sandhu leaving the Blues, on top of the retirements of Ed Cowan and Doug Bollinger, NSW has backed young talent in a bid to improve fortunes on the field.

Jaques said that while winning was always important, improvement was his first priority.

“Performances will need to warrant [selection], we don’t just give away caps either,” Jaques said. “There is a strong push to push these guys through and have some development. We’ll be trying to give them opportunities at the level they’re deserving of.

“We wouldn’t be in this business if we weren’t about winning but it is about excellence and trying to improve.

“I believe we’ve got the squad to be very competitive and to win titles if we hold ourselves to the standards that’s expected of NSW players. It may take some time but I believe we’ve got the nucleus of a really good squad going forward.”

Cricket NSW chief executive Andrew Jones said just as much, foreshadowing a rebuilding phase that needed to occur before success could be achieved.

“We’re not focused on results in the short term,” Jones said. “We’re focused on results in the long term and developing players with NSW and more importantly, for Australia.”

Jaques has spoken to new Australian coach Justin Langer and said he was a big fan of his philosophies.

“A think a lot of his messages rung true with the way I like to go about things I want to instil at NSW,” Jaques said. “We’ve clearly got to be aligned with Cricket Australia … it’s an important state. All the values JL stands for, we’ll be trying to instil in our players.”

Asked about the number of games the Blues would play next year at the SCG, Jaques said: “Hopefully we can play as many games as possible. I’ve always loved playing out here. We have to work with the [SCG] Trust on availability depending on fixtures.”

Tom Decent

Tom Decent is a journalist with Fairfax Media.

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