Smith’s return to captaincy “not on the radar”: CA chairman
Steve Smith's re-appointment as Australia's captain is not on the agenda. (AFP Image)

The prospect of Steven Smith returning as the captain of Australia is “not even on the radar” if Cricket Australia Chairman Earl Eddings is to be believed. Eddings said the board was happy with Tim Paine as captain, under whom Australia beat England to go 1-0 up in the 2019 Ashes, and that as of now, the team is happy to see Smith and his former deputy David Warner back in the side which was the focus all through.

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“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. “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.

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The discussion regarding Smith’s return to captaincy at the end of his ban in March 2020 grabbed steam when he was animatedly spotted with Paine, discussing field settings and tactics, when England were batting in the first innings at Edgbaston. This led many to speculate whether Smith automatically slots back in as the captain or does the management stick with Paine, who will turn 35 this December. Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting said he had absolutely no problems with Smith taking back command of the side.

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But Eddings comments may once and for all close any such possibility, at least in the near future. “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,” he said.

Smith’s leadership ban lasted a year longer than his playing ban. Having made a remarkable comeback to Test cricket by registering twin Ashes centuries in the first game at Edgbaston, Smith has garnered praise by one and all, including the hostile English crown, whose boos were replaced by applauds by the time he walked back in the second innings.

Smith himself refuses to dwell too much into the topic, saying the priority for him was to “just going out there, doing job as a batsman and scoring runs” and that the leadership was “certainly not on my radar at the moment”.

Eddings views however, were different to that of CA chief executive, who did not completely rule out the possibility of Smith taking over the reins not too far down the line.

“I suspect that some of Steve’s experiences over the past 11 months, whilst challenging, have also made him a better person and give him the prospect of being a better leader in future,” Roberts had earlier said.