After Ponting, Paine backs Smith to lead Australia again

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Melbourne, Oct 15 (IANS) Australia Test captain Tim Paine has put his weight behind Steve Smith leading the team once again after his ban ends in March.

Smith led the side until he was banned for 12 months owing to the ball tampering saga in Cape Town last year. A further year-long exile from any leadership role was part of the punishment.

After returning to international cricket, Smith played a big role in Australia retaining the Ashes and since then there have been calls to re-appoint him as the captain of the team.

The 30-year-old had an incredible Ashes series in England as he amassed 774 runs at a staggering average of 110.57 in the seven innings he played. In the process, he also surpassed India captain Virat Kohli as the top-ranked batsman in the ICC Test Rankings.

“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,” Paine was quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph.

Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting also believes Smith should get another chance to lead the national team once Paine’s time is up.

“It’s the million-dollar question: when Steve Smith’s ban is up will he go straight back into the captaincy or will he not?” Ponting told 7NEWS.

“To be honest I think it’s up to Tim how long he plays. He’s the best keeper in the world. Whether that’s as captain or not that’s up to the hierarchy at Cricket Australia to make that decision. I’ve been on record already — when Tim’s time is up I’d like to see Steve Smith have another go.

“I think he probably feels like there’s unfinished business there as far as his captaincy’s concerned. He’s got to want to do it and obviously then the authorities have to say yes or no,” he added.

Paine has often been criticised for his poor form with the bat and questions have been raised about his position in the team. Recently, the 35-year-old, however, scored a Sheffield Shield century after 13 years.

–IANS

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