Steve Smith captaincy call a huge decision for Cricket Australia.
Steve Smith captaincy call a huge decision for Cricket Australia.

Is Australia now ready for Smith to captain again?

Steve Smith's prospects of returning to the Australian captaincy have taken three steps forward and one minor hit in his remarkable journey back to international cricket.

The question of whether Smith will return as Test captain when his two year leadership ban ends in March is the biggest decision Australia will face in the next 12 months.

Even before he faced a ball in his history-shaping Ashes series there were signs that people in high places were happy to move on from the ball tampering affair and give him a fresh start.

 

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By ranking him at number three in the Cricket Australia contract list the national selectors appeared to agree with advice that Smith, David Warner and Cam Bancroft, who were also banned, be treated as if they had been out for a year injured rather than be permanently stigmatised for their sins.

 

Steve Smith was the difference between the sides as Australia brought the Ashes back home.
Steve Smith was the difference between the sides as Australia brought the Ashes back home.

 

That being the case there would appear to be no reason why the selectors will not consider Smith as a leadership option even though they do not have the final say.

The selectors submit their recommendation to the CA board who discuss it and either endorse or overturn it.

There are precedents for the board overturning a recommendation by the panel including their call in 1999 to make Steve Waugh the successor to Mark Taylor after Taylor's surprise retirement.

The selectors had recommended Shane Warne but the board felt he was too controversial.

Apart from the selectors vote of confidence Smith has enhanced his chances through his sublime batting form which has rallied public sentiment behind him.

The support will never be unanimous. Any article written about his captaincy prospects will receive mixed comments including those who say he should never captain his country again.

But the tide is turning. Even the English crowds which jeered him all the way through the World Cup and the Ashes gave him a standing ovation when he walked off The Oval after his last Test innings.

 

Smith’s resolve and weight of runs has turned public opinion firmly back in his favour.
Smith’s resolve and weight of runs has turned public opinion firmly back in his favour.

Cricket Australia have said public sentiment in Australia will matter in their decision.

If Smith got jeered all summer - that won't happen - he would be no chance of being captain again.

The resignation of Taylor from the Cricket Australia board is a slight setback to Smith's chances for Taylor has been an advocate of Smith captaining the side again, claiming he would be a better leader for the setbacks he has faced.

Had Taylor still been on the board his weighty view could have been significant given he and Michael Kasprowicz were the sole Test players on the board and the men whose opinions on such matters counted for most.

Australia will have four Sheffield Shield rounds to sort out its top order which will have three positions vacant for the first Test against Pakistan at the Gabba.

That's enough time for David Warner to either play himself out of the team or be the first opener picked for the first Test.

Australia's batting stocks are thin but the selectors are comforted by the fact that with a champion fast bowler (Pat Cummins), a once in a generation batsman (Smith) and a world class spinner (Nathan Lyon) they have a side good enough to be competitive against any team, anywhere.