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Steven Smith had led Sydney Sixers to the inaugural Big Bash League title in 2011-12 © Getty Images

Sydney: Nov 18, 2014

Steve Smith should serve a captaincy apprenticeship at the helm of Australia’s one-day team as Test skippers Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke did before him, former pacer Stuart Clark said Tuesday.

Clark’s views come at a time when Cricket Australia (CA) looks to avoid saddling Smith with the burden of carrying the tag of the “Next Test Captain” and is banking on Brad Haddin being fit to lead the Test side against India Dec 4 in regular captain Michael Clarke’s absence.

“If I was making the decision, I would probably go down the path we have seen with Michael and Ricky and even Stephen to some extent before that, to make him captain of the one-day team for a little while,” Clark said.

“As much as George Bailey does a wonderful job, Steve Smith is the long-term future, so I would like to see them go down that path and work his way through the one-day team as Ricky and Stephen and Michael did. That seems to have worked.”

Waugh and Ponting both captained the one-day team for two years before taking the Test reins, while Clarke took the One-Day International (ODI) helm after the 2011 World Cup and became Test captain when Ponting retired two seasons later.

Smith led the Sydney Sixers to the inaugural Big Bash League (BBL) title in 2011-12 and has gained in stature both as player and captain since then.

“Since he came into the New South Wales team when I was still playing, he understood the game and wasn’t afraid to speak his mind but he knew when it was the right time to do it and when it wasn’t. He was happy to make decisions and stand by them and be accountable for them if it went wrong, and he was happy to get them right as well,” Clark said.

“Everyone saw it, but sometimes the worst thing you can do is make it happen all so soon. Like anyone who comes into the team it takes a bit of time to believe you’re good enough but I think he has shown in the last 12 months he has really matured as a cricketer. He’s good in the field, he can bowl, he can bat. He understands when to attack and when to defend and understands when people are struggling a little bit.”