Smith (L) has been touted to return as Australia’s captain
A rising crop of young talent will compete with Steve Smith to be Australia’s next captain, current skipper Tim Paine said on Tuesday.
Smith captained the side before Paine but was slapped with a two-year leadership ban over his part in the ball tampering scandal during a Test in Cape Town in 2018.
The ban expired this week, prompting renewed speculation that Smith could soon resume the leadership duties.
While 35-year-old Paine has acknowledged he is in the twilight of his career, the wicketkeeper said he was not yet ready to walk away from the game.
He refused to lay out a timetable for his departure, particularly with the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 shutdown, saying only that coach Justin Langer and selectors knew of his plans.
“I know what I’m thinking, in terms of how far I can play on and we’re on the same page,” he told reporters via video conference.
Paine said he had not spoken with Smith about the captaincy but the 30-year-old batsman would not be the only candidate for the role.
“We’ve got a number of guys to choose from who can put their hand up,” he said.
“There’s Steve Smith, who’s done it before, or the people who are developing underneath like a Travis Head or an Alex Carey -- Marnus Labuschagne and Pat Cummins are other ones.
“We’re starting to build some real depth so that when my time’s up we’ve got a number of options.”
Paine also believes test cricketers would be prepared to play a lot of matches in a short space of time once the coronavirus crisis is over to ensure the World Test Championship can be completed as scheduled
International cricket, like most other sports, has been shut down while the world battles the pandemic and Paine said it did not take “Einstein” to conclude that Australia’s tour of Bangladesh would probably not go ahead in June.
With other tours also on hold, it has been suggested that the International Cricket Council might need to push back the conclusion of the inaugural edition of the test championship.
Paine hoped it would not be pushed back too far and said he thought players would favour playing catch-up to finish it as planned with a final between the top two teams at Lord’s on June 10, 2021.
“Maybe the players are going to have to go through a period where we play quite a bit of cricket if we want to complete the test championship as it is,” the 35-year-old wicketkeeper said in a teleconference on Tuesday.
“I think the players are certainly enjoying that points system and the fact that every test match counts for something ... I think all players would be in favour of trying to finish that any way we can.”
Paine reiterated that winning the championship was a big goal for his team, who are currently second in the standings behind India.
The Indians are scheduled to play four tests in Australia at the end of the year.