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3 Mar 2021
Out of favour Australia batsman Usman Khwaja has supported former skipper Steve Smith to take the charge of the national team once again. Khwaja, who is leading the Queensland side in the second round of the Sheffield Shield, said that Smith has already paid for the mistakes he committed being the leader of the team, and hence if he wants to lead the side again, the opportunity must be given to him.
“If Steve Smith wants to captain Australia, I think he should captain Australia. He’s our number one batsman, he’s done it before, he’s paid for his mistakes, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be in line for the captaincy if wants to do it, Khwaja said to reporters in Brisbane.
Khwaja is the latest Australian cricketer to throw his weight behind Smith’s claim on the captaincy of the Australian team. Earlier late last year, former Australian batsman Mark Waugh, who was a member of the selection committee in the recent past, had said that Smith deserves redemption and that he should get the captaincy back.
“I would have made Steve Smith captain. He is one of the best players in the team, so he is always going to be picked in the team,” Waugh had said on Fox Sports’ Heavy Roller Podcast.
“Plus he has captained Australia for a number of years. He’s got a great cricket brain and I think he is a leader, so why not?” I know a lot of people say why should he captain again? But hang on the crime has been paid for as minor as I thought it was. He’s paid his penance there, so he gets back to captain. I think he is a pretty good captain.”
On the other hand, spin legend Shane Warne has always rejected the idea of reinstating Smith as the captain of the Australian team. Although he has forgiven Smith for the act in South Africa in 2018 he still believes that Smith’s phase as captain has gone by and that the right-hander should focus on amassing more and more runs with the bat.
“I wouldn’t (make him captain), I think Steve Smith has had his time. I would go with someone else as captain. Steve Smith we want to bat and bat. I think we just let him bat and play. His time has been. It has got nothing to do with the issues in South Africa for me. I just think it is time for someone else,” Warne said.
There was a debate around Tim Paine’s position as the captain of the team after the series loss from India at home, but the selectors have backed Paine for the near future. However, the next series for Australia is far away at the end of the year and if Australia fail to retain the urn in their own backyard, Paine's position as captain will become untenable.