Cricket

Smith’s leadership ban ends

Steve Smith

Steve Smith   | Photo Credit: Rafiq Maqbool

The master batsman is free to be Australia skipper again

A two-year leadership ban slapped on Steve Smith after the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa ended on Sunday, leaving the master batsman free to skipper Australia again.

The 30-year-old captained the team until he was suspended for 12 months over a brazen attempt to alter the ball with sandpaper under his watch during a Test in Cape Town in 2018.

Part of his punishment included a further year-long exile from any leadership role, which has now expired. Co-conspirator and former vice-captain David Warner was banned from any leadership role for life.

Not clear

There have been calls for Smith to take over the Test reins from Tim Paine, but it remains unclear whether he wants to, with the 35-year-old batsman seemingly intent on playing on.

Coach Justin Langer last year praised Paine's leadership as “brilliant” and said Smith may not want the “burden” of captaincy on top of batting pressures.

Aaron Finch is the skipper of the T20 and ODI teams.

Focus on staying fit

Smith told Channel Nine television he was focused only on trying to stay physically and mentally fit during the coronavirus shutdown of Australian cricket.

He was supposed to be preparing for a big-money payday at IPL, but the tournament has already been delayed until April 15 in response to the pandemic.

With India in a three-week lockdown in a bid to contain a spread of the virus, Smith admitted IPL-13 appeared unlikely to go ahead.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 9:50:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/smiths-leadership-ban-ends/article31200118.ece

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