Tim Paine backs Steve Smith’s return to captaincy

Calls have grown for Smith to take over from Paine when the ban is lifted, following batting performances that helped Australia retain the Ashes against England

Australia skipper Tim Paine and Steve Smith during the Ashes series.   -  FILE PHOTO/ REUTERS

Australian captain Tim Paine will fully support Steve Smith if the latter gets a chance to lead the team once his ban ends in March 2020.

Smith skippered the team until he was suspended for 12 months over a brazen attempt under his watch to alter the ball with sandpaper in Cape Town last year. Part of his punishment included a further year-long exile from any leadership role.

Calls have grown for Smith to take over from Paine when the ban is lifted, following batting performances that helped Australia retain the Ashes against England.

Paine, who will turn 35 in December, brushed off questions surrounding the Australian side’s future leadership. “I’m enjoying having the job at the moment... and I certainly hope Steve Smith does captain Australia again one day, and if he does, I’ll be fully supportive of it,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

Paine will not play in this summer’s Big Bash League, instead joining broadcaster Channel Seven’s commentary team. But he will certainly retain captaincy for the home summer Test series against Pakistan and New Zealand, despite occasional criticism of his form during the Ashes.

He recently ended a 13-year century drought by scoring his first ton since his maiden century as a 21-year-old in 2006.

Coach Justin Langer has praised his leadership as “brilliant” and said Smith may not want to take on the “burden” of the captaincy at the moment.