‘Captaincy not even on the radar for Smith’
Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings says his board has not discussed the prospect of Steve Smith regaining the Test captaincy at some stage after his leadership ban expires next March, maintaining “it’s not even on the radar”.
Smith was stripped of the captaincy 16 months ago in South Africa as part of the sanctions handed down to him, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft over the Cape Town ball-tampering affair. Tim Paine was immediately installed as his successor and remains in charge, overseeing one of Australia’s great Test victories in the first match of the Ashes at Edgbaston.
The former skipper’s senior role in the field in Birmingham, including assisting Paine with field placements, intensified discussion about whether he would ultimately be restored as captain in the future when the tenure of Paine, who is 35 in December, comes to an end.
There is no timeline on that, with Paine focused on leading the team to a first series win in England in 18 years, although in an interview with the Cricket Australia website before the series the Tasmanian did flirt with the idea of retirement after the Ashes in the event of an Australian victory, before quickly saying: “Nah, I would certainly be looking to play on”.
Smith, who led the way with the bat in the first Test with two sublime hundreds, is ineligible for any leadership roles until next March, having received an additional 12-month ban from that responsibility on top of his year-long suspension from playing international and domestic cricket.
The CA chairman said the possibility of him regaining the top job in the future had not been spoken about by the board. While selectors recommend captains, it is the board which has final approval.
“It’s not even on our radar. We’ve got a captain doing a great job. Steve has just come back into the side,” said Eddings, who will be in London for the second Test at Lord’s along with chief executive Kevin Roberts.
“We haven’t even thought about it or mentioned it at board meetings. We’re just glad that [Smith, Warner and Bancroft] are back. That’s been a focus, getting the boys back into the team. And getting them playing the right way, which they are. So that’s not our focus.
“We’re just happy they’re doing well and happy to get them back in the side. Tim is captaining really well. It’s not on the board agenda.”
Smith spoke in the same terms when asked during the first Test whether he aspired to the captaincy, saying he was intent on “just going out there and doing my job as a batsman and scoring runs” and that the leadership was “certainly not on my radar at the moment”.
The issue of captaincy is not an immediate concern with Paine running the show but it could become one in the event the wicketkeeper sustains an injury or dramatically falls out of form.
The Test vice-captains are Pat Cummins and Travis Head, with national selector Trevor Hohns saying before the series it would be Cummins who would step into the position if required in England. Captaincy has generally not been the domain of fast bowlers.