Paine Will Back Smith’s Return as Australia Captain But Says He’s Not the Only Claimant
Steve Smith (© IANS)

Australia Test captain Tim Paine will welcome Steve Smith’s return to the leadership role but says he might have to stave competition from other claimants. Smith was handed two-year captaincy ban for his role in ball-tampering scandal in 2018 which ended on Sunday.

“I haven’t had that conversation with Smithy, I probably will at some stage no doubt but I think that he’s back captaining the [Indian Premier League’s] Rajasthan Royals and captaining in [English competition] The Hundred, it’s something that he loves doing,” Paine told reporters on Tuesday.

“If Steve Smith decides that’s the way he wants to go then I’d fully support him in trying to again,” he added.

Paine though feels that in addition to Smith, the likes of Pat Cummins, Marnus Labuschagne and Alex Carey have the potential to succeed him as the Test captain.

“We’ve got a number of guys to choose from who can put their hand up,” he said. “There’s Steve Smith, who’s done it before, or the people who are developing underneath like a Travis Head or an Alex Carey — Marnus Labuschagne and Pat Cummins are other ones. We’re starting to build some real depth so that when my time’s up we’ve got a number of options.”

Paine who is 35 now doesn’t have any retirement plans and hopes to extend his international career for some time to come. “I know what I’m thinking, in terms of how far I can play on and we’re on the same page,” he said.

With the cricketing world coming to a standstill amid coronavirus pandemic, Paine is practising at home, aiming to improve his cover drive. His next will be in action when he leads Australia in a two-Test series in June.

However, the wicketkeeper-batsman feels the chances of the series actually happening are slim.

“You don’t have to be Einstein to realise that it’s probably unlikely, particularly in June. Whether it’s cancelled completely or it’s pushed back we’re not quite sure at the moment. I think all players would be in favour of trying to finish that anyway we can [but] if it doesn’t happen, there are bigger issues in the world and missing a few Test matches isn’t going to hurt us,” he said.