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Steven Smith to be back as Test captain as early as next year?

Despite the Ashes win, Tim Paine’s Test captaincy still hangs on a thread as Steven Smith is widely believed to return to power post his leadership ban that ends in March next year. Smith had led the team for a while until the ball-tampering saga in 2018 saw him being banned for a year as a player by Cricket Australia and a further year from leadership. 

With Paine not a first-choice pick in the team itself, the chorus has grown louder for Smith to return as Test captain. Paine is also 35 and is happy to back Smith if he were to come back to power.

“I’m enjoying having the job at the moment… and I certainly hope Steve Smith does captain Australia again one day, and if he does, I’ll be fully supportive of it,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

Paine also seems to be channelling his energy into post-retirement plans with him joining the commentary team for the Big Bash season. That said, for the home series against Pakistan and New Zealand this summer, Paine is widely expected to continue as Test skipper, with Justin Langer also throwing his weight behind the keeper’s captaincy skills.

Langer also feels reinstating Smith isn’t a straightforward decision.

“I’ve built a good relationship with Steve over the last 18 months, and it (the captaincy) is going to come down to honest conversations,” the coach told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Saturday.

“You can see how exhausted he was from the effort he put into his batting (during the Ashes), and whether he wants the burden of captaincy as well is something we’ll have to work out over time.

“I’ll be one of the selectors, and I think we’ll just work out what’s best,” Langer concluded.

Rohit Sankar is a freelance cricket journalist stuck in a love-hate live-in relationship with the game. To rile him up, mention the 1999 World Cup semi-final. Rohit has been writing about cricket for well over 10 years now, and has written for a variety of news and sports outlets over this time.

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