Cricket Australia needs to decide whether Steve Smith’s national captaincy career is over - and fast
Cricket Australia needs to decide whether Steve Smith’s national captaincy career is over - and fast

The complex issue Australia must confront - and fast

It just doesn't feel right. Every cricket fan in the country has a view on whether Steve Smith should captain Australia except the people making the decision.

The time is right for Cricket Australia's board to ask itself the question which has been putting off in the hope a cloudy issue might become clearer - does it want Smith back as captain?

Would it rather move on in the wake of the South African ball tampering scandal or could it even find a middle ground such as appointing Smith vice-captain so he could work with and enhance the development of a new batch of leaders?

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Should Steve Smith have been handed the captaincy on Sunday?
Should Steve Smith have been handed the captaincy on Sunday?

Since Smith's two-year leadership ban ended in March, the line from Australia's top echelons on whether Smith would be allowed back as a leader is that the matter is yet to be fully talked through.

Well, talk they must. And soon.

In fact, the conversation should have happened already because these issues become very big very quickly.

Like on Sunday when Matt Wade was made captain because, as Justin Langer explained, there was a process that had to be gone through before Smith could be considered for the captaincy.

That's true but you could whiz through that process in 24 hours if you really wanted to as Australia did when Smith's first appointment as national captain was rushed through one Sunday after Michael Clarke was injured in 2014.

 

The normal process involves the selectors nominating their choice as captain and that name goes to the Cricket Australia Board who either endorse or overrule it.

Sometimes they agree. Sometimes they don't. But the board is historically very firm about retaining the final say.

Selection chairman Trevor Hohns handed Shane Warne's name to the panel when Mark Taylor retired in 1999 suspecting deep down they would overrule it and appoint Steve Waugh, which they did.

Wade captained Australia well, but in many ways his appointment was a waste because he is not the future.

At least if Smith had been given a soft reappointment on Sunday, Australia could have gauged public sentiment about his return.

Did ‘Sandpapergate’ spell the end of Steve Smith’s captaincy hopes?
Did ‘Sandpapergate’ spell the end of Steve Smith’s captaincy hopes?

Smith has been guarded about his desire to captain again but his friends say he would accept the position because it would be a final act of redemption and rehabilitation after the ball tampering scandal.

The board's prime concerns over reappointing him are that it would rekindle the stigma of the Cape Town affair and every behavioural stumble by Australia would have a "back to the bad old days'' feel about it.

There is also a feeling he is just left to bat, and bat and bat.

Former board member Mark Taylor was known to strongly endorse the prospect of Smith again. Others have reservations.

It will be a spirited discussion … and one that should happen sooner rather than later.

Originally published as The complex issue Australia must confront - and fast


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