Australia dampen Steve Smith captaincy rumours with end of Tim Paine reign in sight


The possibility of Steve Smith being reappointed as Australia captain remains nearly three years on from the infamous ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.

Smith, who was suspended from cricket for 12 months and then handed a two-year ban from any leadership role as a result of the findings from the Cape Town Test in March, 2018, in which sand paper was used to artificially change the match ball.

Tim Paine has since led the Test team, even with Smith returning, but as he enters the twilight of his career, approaching his 36th birthday, there is no clarity on who will emerge as his successor. 

The first test against India starts on 17 December, and there are few players who have better credentials to succeed the wicketkeeper than star batsman Smith, whose leadership ban expired in March.

READ MORE: Steve Smith will miss England fans’ boos during behind closed doors series

Yet it was fast bowler Pat Cummins confirmed as the team’s sole vice-captain when the 17-man squad was named on Thursday.

The second vice-captain’s role, which was held by batsman Travis Head, has been terminated to align with the more traditional leadership setup of the one-day side.

Smith’s name was not even raised in discussions about the leadership roles, selectors chairman Trevor Hohns said on Thursday.

“All I can answer to that one is that discussion hasn’t been had yet,” Hohns said bluntly in a video call with reporters.

Asked whether 31-year-old Smith might ever be captain again, Hohns played a straight bat.

“That’s difficult to say, he will obviously be – probably – a contender but whether we go down that path or not depends on when that arises,” he said.

“Tim Paine hasn’t gone yet, put it that way, so we’ll worry about that in due course.”

Smith, who captained Australia’s one-day side before the ball tampering scandal, was also overlooked for the leadership roles in the limited overs sides.

Aaron Finch, who led Australia to the semi-finals of the 50-over World Cup last year, remains captain of the one-day and Twenty20 sides, with Cummins vice-captain.

Reuters

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