Melbourne: Describing Steve Smith as "Virat Kohli of the Australian team", coach Justin Langer has said that he is looking forward to having the former captain back in the side.

Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were banned for their roles in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa earlier this year.

With the current four-Test series between India and Australia level at 1-1, Langer spoke to the media ahead of the third Test in Melbourne and said Smith was determined to get back to the national side.

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"I have spoken to him (Smith). That's much more important to me than what I read in the press - that's with absolute respect — because I hear it straight from the horse's mouth," Langer said on Monday.

"I think he's in a very determined place. Obviously, it's been a really tough time for him. But we can't wait to see — can't wait to have him back. (I am) really looking forward to this — he's (the) Virat Kohli of the Australian cricket team. That's the truth of it. He's an outstanding player, he's been our captain. He's a fantastic young bloke.

"I know how determined he is to get back and play for Australia. That makes me feel warm and fuzzy, knowing Steve Smith is determined," he added.

Before the 12-month ban, it was a fascinating battle between Smith and Kohli for the top spot in the ICC Test Rankings. Now, Kohli has claimed the No 1 position while Smith is at third. Kohli is also the No 1 batsman in ODIs while Smith is 22nd.

Recently, in a press conference, Smith admitted that he could have stopped the ball-tampering scandal but did not.

"For me in the room I walked past something and had the opportunity to stop it and I didn't do it. That was my leadership failure. Something happened out on the field and I had the opportunity to stop it at that point rather than say I don't want to know anything about it, that was my failure and I've taken responsibility for that,” he said.