Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 November 2019

Coach Justin Langer unsure if Steve Smith wants Australia captaincy back

Tim Paine expected to continue leading Test team during home series against Pakistan and New Zealand

Steve Smith, left, is in great form but Tim Paine is expected to continue leading Australia. Getty
Steve Smith, left, is in great form but Tim Paine is expected to continue leading Australia. Getty

Australia coach Justin Langer said he is not sure if Steve Smith wants to be captain, even though the ban on him leading the country is set to end in March.

Smith was suspended for one year for his role in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in 2018. His punishment included a further year-long ban from any leadership role.

Calls are growing for Smith to take over from current captain Tim Paine. However, Langer said it was not a straightforward decision; Smith had admitted that his Ashes campaign – 774 runs in seven innings – left him mentally and physically drained.

"I've built a good relationship with Steve over the last 18 months, and it (the captaincy) is going to come down to honest conversations," Langer was quoted as saying by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"You can see how exhausted he was from the effort he put into his batting (during the Ashes), and whether he wants the burden of captaincy as well is something we'll have to work out over time.

"I'll be one of the selectors, and I think we'll just work out what's best."

Paine, who will turn 35 in December, is almost certain to be retained as captain for the home Test series against Pakistan and New Zealand. While Paine's batting and captaincy came in for some criticism during the Ashes, Langer said he was "doing a brilliant job at the moment".

"He's been outstanding in his time as captain. However long he wants to keep playing for is another thing," he added.

While Smith was unstoppable during the Ashes, former vice-captain David Warner had a horror return from the 'sandpapergate' scandal as he struggled to reach double figures against England with Stuart Broad troubling him throughout.

But Langer backed the left-handed opener, who scored a century for New South Wales in the Sheffield Shield last week.

"He had a poor series against England, no doubt. That's just a fact, and he knows that," Langer said.

"But he also hasn't lost his talent, because he was the highest run scorer in the World Cup two weeks before the Ashes started, and he was the highest run scorer in the IPL before that. So he can bat.

"The other thing about David Warner, my experience tells me that you never write off champion players. And he's a champion player."

Updated: October 13, 2019 10:59 AM

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