Steve Smith’s hopes of captaining in this year’s Ashes have been boosted after the man who led the cultural review into the Australian cricket team endorsed his credentials.
A little over a month after Smith revealed he wanted to lead his country again, Dr Simon Langstaff, whose probe in 2018 following the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa resulted in the 31-year-old being banned for a year and suspended from leadership roles until May 2020, said he had no objections.
‘I’ve always believed that if people have done the wrong thing, have paid a particular penalty and they show that they have been open in their acceptance of wrongdoing and genuinely remorseful, then they should not be excluded for all opportunities into the future, and I would apply that to Steven Smith,’ Longstaff, head of the Ethics Centre, said in an interview with The Age newspaper.
Steve Smith is desperate to lead Australia again with the Ashes on the horizon
Those words come at an intriguing juncture for Australian cricket, with Tim Paine, the current Test captain, turning 37 on the eve of the 2021-22 Ashes.
Viewed by his Cricket Australia bosses as a safe pair of hands in succession to Smith, Paine is now struggling to justify his place in the XI due to a combination of his age, a first-class batting average of 30 and the fact that Australia have lost twice at home to India during his tenure.
Dates for the Ashes – which is set to conclude in Perth next January after a crammed international schedule forced a re-jig of the traditional order of matches – are to be confirmed on May 12-13.
The presence of the Twenty20 World Cup, which runs until November 13, will see the Anglo-Aussie rivalry begin later than usual in early December, while England play the first international of a tour of the Caribbean on January 28.
Current Australia Test captain Tim Paine is now struggling to justify his place in the XI