Australia Test captain Tim Paine says he would “fully support” Steve Smith if the former skipper were to lead the side again.
Paine, 35, took over the captaincy in March 2018 after Smith was banned from international cricket for his part in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
Smith, 30, returned to the side as Australia retained the Ashes against England last summer and his two-year ban on leadership roles within the national side is now over.
“He’s captain of the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL and Welsh Fire in The Hundred; it’s something he loves doing,” Paine said.
“If Steve Smith decides that’s the way he wants to go then I’d fully support him in trying to do so again.”
Since taking over the captaincy, Paine has won 10 Tests, with six losses and one draw. This includes the recent back-to-back whitewash wins at home, beating Pakistan 2-0 and New Zealand 3-0.
Smith led the team for 36 Test matches between 2014 and 2018, with a record of 18 wins, 10 defeats and six draws.
On his return to the team, he was named Australia’s player of the series in last year’s Ashes, scoring 774 runs at an average of 110.57.
Paine also added that coach Justin Langer and the selectors are “developing a number of guys that we can choose from” for when the Test captaincy does become available again.
He mentioned Travis Head and Pat Cummins, who are currently joint vice-captains, and batsman Marnus Labuschagne as possible candidates.
Australia are scheduled to tour Bangladesh for a two-Test series in June, although Paine, who was speaking to journalists on a video call from his home in Hobart, conceded the tour could be cancelled or postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
“You don’t have to be Einstein to realise that it’s probably unlikely, particularly in June,” he added. (BBC Sports)