AFP - A two-year leadership ban slapped on Steve Smith after the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa ended yesterday, leaving the master batsman free to Skipper Australia again.
The 30-year-old captained the team until he was suspended for 12 months over a brazen attempt to alter the ball with sandpaper under his watch during a Test in Cape Town in 2018.
Part of his punishment included a further year-long exile from any leadership role, which has now expired.
Co-conspirator and former Vice-Captain David Warner was banned from any leadership role for life although both have successfully resumed their international careers.
There have been calls for Smith to take back the Test captaincy from Tim Paine but it remains unclear whether he wants to, with the 35-year-old seemingly intent on playing on.
Coach Justin Langer last year praised Paine’s leadership as ‘brilliant’ and said Smith may not want the ‘burden’ of captaincy on top of batting pressures.
Smith told Channel Nine television he was focused only on trying to stay physically and mentally fit during the coronavirus shutdown of Australian cricket.
He was supposed to be preparing for a big-money payday at the Indian Premier League but the tournament has already been delayed until April 15 in response to the pandemic. With India in a three-week lockdown in a bid to contain a spread of the virus, Smith admitted the IPL appeared unlikely to go ahead.
“It’s obviously not looking likely at the moment, I think there might be some meetings over the next couple of days to discuss what the go is with it all.”
“But just trying to stay physically fit and mentally fresh,” he added.
“If it goes ahead at some point then it is great. If not, then there’s plenty going on in the world at the moment. Just play it day by day.”