Australia captain Tim Paine believes disgraced pair Steve Smith and David Warner could be instrumental in this year’s Ashes series.
The pair’s year-long suspensions for their roles in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa are set to expire late next month and it is anticipated they will make an immediate return to the international set-up.
Australia have struggled in the absence of their two star batsmen, being whitewashed across five one-day internationals in England last summer and more recently losing a Test series on home soil to India for the first time in their history.
Paine said in quotes on Cricket Australia’s official website: “Those two (Smith and Warner) have got plenty of runs in the bank.
“I see them going to the Ashes and them having a huge part in us winning the series. That’s how important they are to this team, as I see.
“We know how good they are and hopefully, once their bans are up, they will be welcomed back and they’ll win Test matches like they did before.”
Australia completed a 366-run victory over Sri Lanka in Canberra on Monday to seal a 2-0 Test series victory over the tourists.
Paine believes his squad for the blockbuster five-Test series in England – which starts at Edgbaston on August 1 – is starting to take shape.
He added: “I haven’t written any (names) down, but I’ve got a fair idea what it might look like.
“But I’m not a selector, so I get asked for my input but I think they (the three-man selection panel) would have a pretty good picture of what it would look like.
“What we’ve seen over this summer is that we’ve now started to build a squad with plenty of depth, so there’s probably anywhere between 16 and 20 players now that we think are in the mix, which is a really good place to be.”
Joe Burns and Travis Head both made centuries as Australia took command of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Canberra.
In the first Test to be played at the Manuka Oval, Burns ended the opening day unbeaten on 172, after Head was dismissed for 161, with the hosts reaching 384 for four at stumps.
Much has been made of Australia’s batting woes and, despite winning the toss, they appeared in real danger of another slump after three wickets fell for just 28 runs.
Marcus Harris (11) and Usman Khawaja (0) were both dismissed by Vishwa Fernando, while Marnus Labuschagne was out for just six.
But Burns, who was dropped on one, and Head steadied the Australian ship with a remarkable partnership of 308, the highest in any series played between Australia and Sri Lanka. Burns’ knock was also the highest of his Test career.
Fernando, the pick of Sri Lanka’s bowling attack, removed Head to end the day with figures of three for 99.
But Kurtis Patterson joined Burns at the crease and scored 25 to leave Australia, who hold a 1-0 series lead, in the overnight driving seat.
Pat Cummins took 6-23 as Australia bowled out Sri Lanka for 139 to win the first Test in Brisbane by an innings and 40 runs inside three days.
Sri Lanka resumed on 17 for one, trailing by 162 runs, and captain Dinesh Chandimal fell to the eighth ball of the day to become Cummins’ second victim and quickly set the tone.
Cummins added the scalps of Kusal Mendis, Roshen Silva and top-scorer Lahiru Thirimanne (32) for a five-wicket haul.
Dhananjaya De Silva and Niroshan Dickwella both fell to Test debutant Jhye Richardson (two for 19) and Cummins removed Dilruwan Perera to finish with match figures of 10 for 62.
Suranga Lakmal hit 24 but when he was stumped off Nathan Lyon, and with Lahiru Kumara absent hurt, the game was over.
Vice-captain Cummins said: “The pitch helped a lot, it was a beautiful Test wicket, and just the discipline our unit showed – I think it’s the best we’ve bowled all summer.”
“If Pat bowls like he bowled in this Test match against anyone he’s going to take wickets,” Australian captain Tim Paine said.
“I thought he was just relentless with his line and length. I thought he and Jhye in particular – their discipline, their ability to just keep hitting the spot and wearing them down was outstanding.”