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James Sutherland has backed Steven Smith (above), citing his age and inexperience, and adding that they have full faith in the latter as a leader Getty Images

Johannesburg: Cricket Australia (CA) has come in defence of skipper Steven Smith who has been under fire post the series whitewash in Sri Lanka, followed by defeat against South Africa in the opening Test in Perth, going 0-1 in the three-match series. The debacle didn t end there as the Aussies came out with a dismal batting performance in the Hobart Test as they were bowled out for 85 on Day One itself within the second session. But CA chief executive James Sutherland has backed Smith, citing his age and inexperience, and adding that they have full faith in the latter as a leader. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Australia vs South Africa, 2nd Test at Hobart

We re certainly very conscious that Steve has come into the role much younger [than previous Australia] captains and I don t think people have really talked about this much or appreciated it, Sutherland was quoted as saying by Sport24. He s come into this role much younger than any of his four or five predecessors. At the end of the day, I think Allan Border, Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting and Clarke were between 29 and 34 when they came into captaincy of Australian teams, he added. The CA chief executive said that there is an added challenge for Smith as he has players who are currently not performing to the level as they can. Quinton de Kock: Don t see myself being like Adam Gilchrist

So that added challenge is there. But we have very high regard for Steve Smith as a person, as a leader and obviously as a cricketer. And we think that with his support and as he builds a team around him and they perform he s got a very bright future as a leader for a long time to come, he said.

Australia are currently battling hard to avoid a probable defeat in the second Test as well at the Bellerive Oval. At stumps on Day Three, Australia were still trailing by 120 runs, with Usman Khawaja and skipper Steve Smith (unbeaten at 18) batting at the crease. South Africa, who currently remain well-placed to clinch the series victory in Hobart, are currently leading the three-match Test series 1-0 following their massive 177-run win over the Smith-led side in the opening match in Perth.