Australia's Steve Smith. Picture: DAN MULLAN/REUTERS
Australia's Steve Smith. Picture: DAN MULLAN/REUTERS

Mumbai — Three years after his ignominious exit as Australia’s captain in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal, Steve Smith has said he is keen and ready to lead the national side again if an opportunity came his way.

Smith, one of the world’s best contemporary batsmen, was suspended from international cricket for 12 months and banned from leadership roles for two years for his part in the “sandpaper-gate” scandal in Cape Town in March 2018.

After Smith’s ban, Tim Paine took over the reins of Australia’s Test side while Aaron Finch was handed the captaincy of the white-ball formats.

“I’ve certainly had a lot of time to think about it and I guess now I’ve got to a point where if the opportunity did come up again, I would be keen,” Smith told News Corp. “If it was what Cricket Australia wanted and it was what was best for the team at the time, it’s certainly something I would be interested in now, that’s for sure.”

The scandal centred on Smith, his deputy David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, who was caught on camera attempting to change the condition of the ball using sandpaper, and it plunged Australian cricket into crisis.

Paine has since led Australia’s Test side with distinction, but with the wicketkeeper-batsman turning 37 by the time he captains the hosts in the Ashes series against England at the end of 2021, a clear succession plan would be required.

Few players have better credentials to succeed Paine than the 31-year-old Smith, but it has been fast bowler Pat Cummins who has been nurtured in the past as Australia’s vice-captain.

“I’m always going to have to live with Cape Town regardless of whether I lead again or not. It’s always there,” Smith said. “I’ve been through all that now.

“Time keeps moving forward, and I’ve learnt so much the last few years about myself and grown as a human being. I feel as though I’d be in a better place if the opportunity did come up.

“If it doesn’t, that’s fine as well and I’d support whoever is in charge the same way I’ve supported Tim and Finchy. I haven’t always felt like I wanted to do it again. That’s only come in the last little bit.” 

Reuters

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