Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland has leapt to the defence of Steve Smith on the back of criticism over his captaincy. Embattled Smith and Australia are under pressure following Saturday's stunning capitulation in Hobart after it was bowled out for just 85 on day one of the second Test.
Smith's name has been thrown under the spotlight amid calls for wholesale changes after Australia's 177-run defeat in the opening Test, with the Aussies now staring at a fifth consecutive defeat. But Sutherland insists the 27-year-old Smith, who finished 48 not out as his team was skittled, is the right man to lead Australia.
"We certainly are very conscious of the fact that Steve has come into the role much younger than any of his four or five predecessors," Sutherland told ABC Grandstand before the play on day two was abandoned due to rain on Sunday.
"I had a look the other day - you go back to [Alan] Border, [Mark] Taylor, [Steve] Waugh, [Ricky] Ponting, [Michael] Clarke - between 29 and 34 I think they came into the captaincy of the Australian team. Steve was 26.
"All of them came into the team as world-class batsmen and a very important role they played as batters obviously, but I certainly don't think if you look back in history, certainly in my time, none of them made an easy, smooth transition into the job.
"But we have a very high regard for Steve Smith as a person as a leader and obviously as a cricketer, and we think that with his support, and as he builds a team around him and they perform, he's got a very bright future as a leader for a long time to come."
Asked about Australia's preparation for its showdown against the Proteas, having only played one Shield game following a one-day international series in South Africa, Sutherland denied the hosts are underdone.
"I don't think the preparation is anything Australian cricket can complain about. The South Africans have had the same schedule in terms of preparation as we've had," he added.
"We both played each other in one-day matches in October, came through here, had various forms of long-form or other preparatory matches - they played a match in Adelaide under lights as Shield cricket was played under lights.
"So if you draw that comparison the team we're playing against hasn't had any different preparation, so yes ideally you might have different preparation but the facts of the matter [are] you can't."
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