Steve Smith’s captaincy ban ends in March. Picture: Getty Images
Steve Smith’s captaincy ban ends in March. Picture: Getty Images

Smith captaincy debate polarises cricketing greats

TO captain, or not to captain?

That is the question polarising the cricketing world ahead of Steve Smith's two-year ban from leading the Australian Test team expiring on March 29.

Australian cricket legends are divided on what should happen when the former captain is eligible to be skipper once more.

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Former national selector Mark Waugh says he would immediately reinstate Steve Smith as captain once the ban ends, while Michael Hussey tends to agree it's the best option.

"I personally would try and pick Steve Smith straight away as captain. I don't see why not," Waugh said.

 

But their support for Smith to take over as soon as Tim Paine's reign as skipper comes to its natural close, contrasts with the opinion of heavyweights Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne and Allan Border.

They believe the world's greatest batsman would be better served not returning to the top post in Australian cricket.

"If he so strongly desires to do it again I guess you'd have to consider it, but from my personal view, I'd need some strong convincing as to why he would need to take that position on again," Gilchrist said.

The differing stances taken by the cricket icons and now Fox Cricket cohorts, illustrates the magnitude of what is fast developing into the biggest captaincy debate in the history of Australian cricket.

Steve Smith (left) chats with captain Tim Paine during the fourth Ashes Test. Picture: Getty Images
Steve Smith (left) chats with captain Tim Paine during the fourth Ashes Test. Picture: Getty Images

THE BIG DEBATE

MARK WAUGH: MAKE HIM CAPTAIN STRAIGHT AWAY

"I personally would try and pick Steve Smith straight away as captain. I don't see why not. I know some say his batting has gone to another level when he hasn't been captaining, but it was pretty good before when he was captain. I think he's the logical choice. I just think he stands out as the leader. Tactically and (with everything else). I don't really see someone else on the horizon to be honest."

ADAM GILCHRIST: JUST LEAVE HIM ALONE

"I'd personally leave him alone. If he so strongly desires to do it again I guess you'd have to consider it but from my personal view, I'd need some strong convincing as to why he would need to take that position on again. He can still contribute significantly (not as captain) and just continue to focus on being the best batsman possible that he can. He may feel a desire to really put the full stop on the redemption line because he wants to show he's learnt about overall leadership and having control of that. But I don't know. I haven't asked him. But personally I don't think it's something with the workload he's going to have, that we need to rush back to. I'm not questioning his capability as a captain, but he can still contribute and indeed already is, I would imagine."

ALLAN BORDER: HE'S PAID HIS PRICE, BUT LET HIM BAT

"There might be some sections that say he's forfeited his right to be captain (over the sandpaper affair) but I disagree with that - he's served his time and it was a harsh penalty for his involvement. But it's all done, so shouldn't exclude him from captaining again. But having seen him play that Ashes series as just one of those senior guys (proved) you don't have to be captain to have a strong influence around the group. It's not vital that he's captain again. You want your captain to be that solid performer and be tactically aware and have the on-field, off-field stuff that the captain does. But I think maybe there's method in the madness of having Stephen just doing what he does well, and scoring a million runs and being a senior guy around the group and have whoever is the next captain in there. And you've got some pretty good people around you to feed off in that role."

SHANE WARNE: KEEP SMITH AS WORLD'S NO.1 BAT

"Steve Smith is absolute class, he's the best Test batsman in the world. I would like him to stay that way for a long time. He could captain the side easily, but I would prefer he just stays there batting. He can hit 5000, 10,000 balls, however many he wants to hit in the nets every day, be the senior pro around the side, help the young players that come in, and help the captains. All good Australian sides over the years have had those good senior players, even though they weren't captain they were still good senior players in the side. I want Steve Smith to keep making hundreds and batting the way he can. If you look at the Ashes, he didn't have to captain the side. Even though I'm sure he helped out a lot tactically ... I would just like to see him bat."

Smith’s form duing the Ashes was phenomenal. Picture: Getty Images
Smith’s form duing the Ashes was phenomenal. Picture: Getty Images

MICHAEL HUSSEY: HE CAN HANDLE IT... AND MIGHT NEED TO

"I thought about it during the Ashes and thought it was the logical choice (to regain the captaincy) when Tim Paine finishes. But just in the last week I've started to change my tact a bit and I'm thinking 'why? Why put that extra burden on him?' - why don't we just let him go out there and do what he does best and become one of Australia's greatest ever batsmen? Why do we have to put that extra responsibility on him? But there are two things to look at. Firstly, his record as captain was pretty darn good as well - so it might not affect him, the extra responsibility. But the second side of things, if it's not Steve Smith… who else is going to take over from Tim Paine? Because you've got to have a pretty good candidate ready to take over, or have someone groomed, because it's a very, very important job. There's lots of balls in the air, lots of things to consider before making such an important decision for the team. As long as Tim Paine is playing well enough, it won't be a discussion. When he decides to retire, it's going to be hotly debated I think."

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