Steve Smith
The way forward? Steve Smith (left) may take over Australia's Test captaincy once again from Tim Paine after the Ashes later this year. Image Credit: AFP

Kolkata: The decks are being cleared for a possible return of Steve Smith as the Australian Test captain as Tim Paine, who did a commendable job, threw in his lot behind the champion batsman.

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 dont make that decision but the time I played with Steve as captain he was excellent,” the 36-year-old Paine said in comments published by News Corp media on Thursday. “Certainly tactically he is as good as you get.

“Then obviously South Africa events happened and he’s not doing it anymore. But, yeah, I would support him getting that job again.”


The low profile wicketkeeper-batsman 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.

Former players and media pundits have pushed for Smith, now 31, to be reinstated, and called for 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 2021-22 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 Im 100 not out and hit the winning runs “ and then I might go again.”

Few players have better credentials to succeed Paine than 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 chairman Trevor Hohns said in November Smith would probably be a contender to succeed Paine but selectors had not discussed it. Paine, brought in for an image makeover of Australian cricket after the ‘Sandpapergate,’ had contributed well within his limitations over the last three years.