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Will Steve Smith Lead Australia as Leadership Ban Ends?

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It was a black day for Australian cricket when Steve Smith accepted his involvement in the 2018 ball tampering scandal against South Africa. Consequently, he along with David Warner and Cameron Bancroft was handed a one year ban by Cricket Australia.

Smith in addition was further banned from leading Australia for two years. The ban, however ended on Sunday, making Smith eligible to lead Australia again.

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Steve Smith during a test match (Image Credit: The Cricket Monthly)

Smith Had A Decent Run As A Skipper

The Ball tampering scandal brought condemnation from all and sundry. In the aftermath of the scandal, many eyebrows were raised on Smith’s style of leadership. However, Smith as a skipper has had a decent run.

Under Smith, Australia won 18 of the 34 Tests they played. In ODIs though, it was a different ball game as he lost 23 of the 51 ODIs as a captain. However, captaincy further glorified his batsmen-ship as  he emerged as of the greatest batsman of the modern era.

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Steve Smith driving a ball in a test match ( Image Credits: The statesmen.com )

Smith scored 3659 runs at an average of 70.35 with 15 hundreds as a skipper which is way more than his average of 40 when he was not leading Australia. In ODIs’ too Smith Averaged 45.09 and registered 1984 runs with 5 tons in comparison to his average of 40.33 when he was not the captain.

Steve Smith Made a Scintillating comeback Post Ban

The ban was tough for a player like Steve Smith, but he didn’t allow it to pull him down. He returned to international during Ashes 2019. Since then, he has been in top form.

In 9 Test, that he has played since he returned to the game, he has scored 1028 runs at an average of 73.42 with 3 magnificent hundreds. In the 2019 Ashes, he scored 774 runs in 4 matches at an average of 110.57, which the highest runs scored in series since 2000.

In ODIs’ too he’s performed exceptionally well with 352 runs in 7 games at 58.66 including a ton. Clearly the time away from the game hasn’t had any effect on the class of the great batsman.

Captaincy Still Distant

The prolific run scorer has been repeatedly pressed on leadership in the past one year. However, he and Australian Coach Justin Langer have continued to back the incumbent Test and ODI captains, Tim Paine and Aaron Finch respectively.

Australia have been doing fairly well under Tim Paine and it appears cricket Australia would not Tinker with a set unit. Paine as a captain, with 10 wins in 19 matches , has lead the Test team to No.3 in the world.

In ODIs Finch too has settled in as a good skipper. Also, Australian coach Justin Langer in an interview last year said that they were happy with the performance of Tim Paine and don’t want to put additional burden on Smith, their main batsman.

Steve Smith during a test match with New Zealand in 2019 (ImageCredit: Cricgeo.com)

Successful Australian Captains Over the Years

Over the years, Australia has been lead by illustrious captains like, Steve Waugh, Ricky Pointing, Micheal Clarke, among others. All these leaders, besides being individual greats were also superb captains, who together help Australia reach the zenith of Test and ODI cricket.

It was precisely, the leadership of these players that Australia won 3 successive world cups in 1999, 2003 and 2007, and then again in 2015.

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World Cup winning Australian Captains, Micheal Clarke, Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh and Alan Border(Image Credit:ABC)

Micheal Clarke, who lead the Aussies to 2015 World Cup, had a win percentages of 51.06 and 70.42 as captain in Tests and ODIs respectively. Under Steve Waugh’s captaincy, Australia won 16 consecutive Test matches (the streak came to an end in the famous 2001 Kolkata Test), including a whitewash of the West Indies.

Ponting is one of the most successful captains in cricket history. He led Australia to 48 Test wins (second highest in Test history behind Graeme Smith’s 53) and 165 ODI wins (highest ever in cricket history). He led Australia in a staggering 324 international games, a record before it was broken by MS Dhoni.

Steve Smith Will have to Wait

Even though the leadership ban might have ended, Smith leading Australia again anytime soon seems highly unlikely. Tim Paine, at 35, still looks fit to play a few more seasons. Even When he hangs up his boot, the leadership could well go to Pat Cummins.

In case, the management decides to hand over the baton back to Steve Smith, it may have to figure out the psychological impact of the role on his batting.

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