More than four years after the scandal of tampering with the ball at Newlands, Steve Smith has shelved his ambitions to regain the Australia captain’s armband full-time, but will be happy to step in this week as the hosts look to launder the West Indies at Adelaide Oval.
For the second Adelaide Test in a row, Smith will captain the side in place of regular skipper Pat Cummins on Thursday as the fast bowler rests with a quadriceps strain.
Last year, Smith took part in the Ashes test against England when Cummins was ruled out by COVID-19 protocols. It proved to be a seamless transition, as Smith scored 93 in the first innings, taking six catches in total, and leading Australia to a 275-run win and a 2–0 series lead.
A year later, Smith hopes to lead Australia to a 2-0 sweep against the Caribbeans and extend his country’s perfect pink ball record to 10 day-night test wins.
“I have to do it my way,” Smith told reporters at Adelaide Oval on Wednesday.
“Last year I took over the game here and I thought it went pretty smoothly. So same again.”
After succeeding Michael Clarke as test captain in 2015, Smith was stripped of rank above ‘Sandpaper-gate’ in 2018 and banned from leadership positions for three years.
After the ban expired in March 2021, Smith was overlooked for the captaincy in favor of Cummins when Tim Paine resigned last year over a ‘sexting’ scandal.
Smith has since been disqualified for the one-day captain’s armband again, also awarded to Cummins in October after Aaron Finch retired.
T20 skipper Finch’s future remains up in the air after Australia’s failure to reach the semi-finals of their home World Cup, but Smith has learned not to hold out hope.
“Almost, yes. I’m pretty laid back so if they want me to do a contest here or there I’m more than happy to do that,” he said.
“But yes, Patty is the man. I will help and support him where I can.”
Last year it was Kane Richardson who stepped into the Cummins bowling shoes, but this time it’s Victoria Quick Scott Boland, who was plucked from obscurity to become a cult hero during the Home Ashes.
Boland, Australia’s second Indigenous Australian to play Tests, took 18 wickets in three Ashes matches but has not been seen since Hobart in January. “It’s a nice replacement,” said Smith. “I think he averages around 10 in test cricket… I’m sure he’ll do another great job for us.”
Despite the margin of defeat in Perth, the West Indies were far from embarrassed and held on well into day five with a defiant century from Captain Kraigg Brathwaite.
They will have to find a way to take more wickets after scoring just six for the entire Perth game as Smith and run machine Marnus Labuschagne went big with the bat.
With the possibility of forced changes, the West Indies has a mountain to climb.
Both Kemar Roach and fellow fast Jayden Seales have nursing injuries, while all-rounder Kyle Mayers has a shoulder problem and is unlikely to bowl.