Former skipper Mark Taylor expects Steve Smith to lead Australia once again in the future despite his tainted history.
Smith was stripped of his Australia captaincy and handed a one-year suspension from international and domestic cricket for his role in the infamous ball-tampering saga in South Africa last year. The top-order batsman was handed a further one-year suspension from all leadership positions as well and will only become eligible for Australia captaincy once again in March next year.
The right-hander has since completed a sensational return to Test cricket with a staggering 671 runs in just five innings in the ongoing Ashes to lead Australia’s charge in England. Taylor, who was part of the panel to recommend Smith’s quantum of punishment last year, feels that the batsman will be a much stronger leader if given another chance.
“I believe Smith will captain Australia again,” the former Australia captain wrote in a column for the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I was on the Cricket Australia board that determined the penalties for Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft over the events of Cape Town and have no doubt he will be a better leader next time around because of the very harsh lessons he learnt.”
Australia are currently being led by Tim Paine who stands on the verge of becoming the first visiting skipper since Steve Waugh in 2001 to win an Ashes series on English soil. Paine was elevated to the Australia captaincy in the most unexpected of manners following the ball-tampering fall out at Cape Town last year.
Taylor expects Smith to be in the running to become the next Australia captain once 34-year-old Paine hangs up his boots.
“To me it’s not a matter of whether he (Smith) becomes captain again on April 1. It doesn’t have to happen that quickly,” he said.
“But I’d like to think when Paine is finished as Test captain – whether that’s in six months’ time or two or three years – he would be a candidate to lead the side again.”
Smith and Paine will be in action for Australia on Thursday when the fifth and final Ashes Test against England gets underway at the Oval.
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Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) board has sought assistance from its government to reassess the security situation in Pakistan ahead of the men’s team’s upcoming limited-overs tour of Pakistan.
Sri Lanka accepted an invitation from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to tour the country for three ODIs and as many T20s after sending a two-member delegation to assess the security situation in Pakistan.
10 senior Sri Lanka players had earlier pulled out of the tour citing security concerns forcing SLC to name much-changed ODI and T20 squads for the tour led by Lahiru Thirimanne and Dasun Shanaka respectively.
However, the SLC is now reconsidering the security assessment for the tour after receiving a tip-off from the Prime Minister’s Office for a possible terror threat to the team.
“Sri Lanka Cricket today sought the assistance of the Sri Lankan Government to conduct a ‘Reassessment’ of the security situation in Pakistan ahead of the National Team’s planned tour to Pakistan,” an SLC press release stated.
“The decision was taken following a warning, the SLC received from the Prime Minister’s Office, sent via the Ministry of Telecommunication, Foreign Employment and Sports.
“Accordingly, the warning highlights that the Prime Minister’s Office has received reliable information of a possible terrorist threat on the Sri Lankan team, while touring Pakistan.”
The proposed tour of Pakistan was slated to get underway on September 27 with the first of the three ODIs at Karachi before coming an end on October 9 with the final T20 at Lahore.
International cricket in Pakistan has been at a near standstill ever since the touring Sri Lanka team bus was attacked by terrorists in Lahore in 2009. It now remains to be seen whether the upcoming tour will go ahead in light of the latest developments.
Jason Roy has been dropped for the final Ashes Test, with England captain Joe Root suggesting others might be playing for their places at The Oval.
Ben Stokes’ shoulder injury has forced a reshuffle in the side, with fellow all-rounder Sam Curran recalled at Roy’s expense and Chris Woakes returning in place of Craig Overton.
England can still salvage a drawn series over the next five days and will be eager to deny Australia turning their unassailable 2-1 lead into a first series win on these shores since 2001.
Standing Roy down at his home ground was not how England envisaged their experiment with the World Cup-winning batsman ending but an average of 18.70 in his five Tests, with a top score of 31 against Australia, left him vulnerable.
Roy faces an uncertain future in the red ball game as a result but whether he earns a second chance – either at opener or in the number four position he filled at Old Trafford – could depend on who succeeds head coach Trevor Bayliss, whose four-year reign ends after the series.
“Jason is the unfortunate one to miss out,” said Root, after explaining Stokes would effectively play as a specialist number four batsman.
“He is very aware of where he is at and what he needs to do to get himself in the best place to perform in Test cricket. He’s had an opportunity to come in and play Test cricket, get a feel for it, and it has not gone quite how he would have liked.
“But I’m sure he will go away and work extremely hard and come again. That is what you expect of guys when they get left out and I’m sure he will have that attitude and want to try and prove a point and get himself back into the side.”
Roy is far from alone in under-performing with the bat and serious questions have been asked of Joe Denly, Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler over the past few weeks.
All three average fewer than 26 in the past four Tests, the kind of return that does not win Ashes series and one that puts them firmly under the microscope.
Root’s own captaincy has been queried, though there does not appear to be any appetite for change from within the England camp, and he made it clear his plans for the future do not have room for those who cannot raise their game.
“I think in terms of personnel things might change, as they have done for a while. We have to focus on the core group of players that can lead this team forward,” he said.
“In terms of my own captaincy I know the direction I want to take this team moving forward and it is about starting that now and not after this series. It is important we win this game and have a really strong winter and move forward as a group.
“You are playing for your country: that’s the fundamentals of it. We have got some very passionate guys who are very proud to represent England and however you motivate yourself, whether it’s getting yourself on a winter tour or trying to get yourself a hundred or five-for, I think it’s really important to harness that this week and take it forward.
“But, ultimately, being part of a national team is a carrot in itself.”
Woakes’ return, conversely, appears more of a reflection on Overton’s abilities than an admission that last week’s selection was a mistake.
Overton batted with admirable defiance in the day five rearguard, frustrating the touring attack for 105 balls before being last man out, but looked a step down on Woakes with ball in hand.
“We brought Craig in for those Old Trafford conditions and he also had a back spasm within the game, which is a slight concern going into another Test,” said Root.
“He did a fantastic job and he should be really proud of the way he went about his business. I’m sure it’s not the last we’ll see of him.”
Root took the opportunity to pay tribute to Bayliss and suggested the Australian’s self-assessment of his own tenure, pitched at “five out of 10”, was under-selling his contribution.
“I give him a slightly higher mark. I think that sums him up really, he’s quite a modest bloke,” said the skipper.
“He has had a massive influence here and he will be sorely missed by all the players that have had a chance to work with him.”
Provided by Press Association Sports