Australia skipper Tim Paine has thrown his support behind Steve Smith replacing him as captain of the Test team when the time comes for a leadership change.
Paine succeeded Smith as captain in 2018 after the batsman was banned from international cricket for 12 months and suspended from leadership roles for two years for his role in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal.
Smith said in March he would gladly take the captaincy back if the chance came, and Paine said he deserved to be considered. “I think so. Obviously I don’t make that decision but the time I played with Steve as captain he was excellent,” Paine said in comments on Thursday.
“Certainly tactically he is as good as you get. Then obviously SA events happened and he’s not doing it any more. But, yeah, I would support him getting that job again.”
Former players and media pundits have pushed for master batsman Smith to be reinstated, and called for 36-year-old Paine to step aside after a shock 2-1 loss to a severely depleted India in the home summer.
Paine has no plans to relinquish the captaincy but suggested he might be tempted to bow out of the game if Australia dominate England in the 2021/2022 Ashes.
“If I feel like the time is right and we’ve beaten the ‘Poms’ 5-0, what a way to go out,” he said. “But it might be a tight series and we might be chasing 300 on the last day and I’m 100 not out and hit the winning runs — and then I might go again.”
Few players have better credentials to succeed Paine than 31-year-old Smith, but while his leadership ban expired in March 2020 he has been overlooked repeatedly for such roles. Fast bowler Pat Cummins is vice-captain of the Test side.
Australia selectors chair Trevor Hohns said in November Smith would probably be a contender to succeed Paine but the selectors had not discussed it.
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