Euro 2020 Special

Will Steve Smith Make A Comeback As Australia’s Captain?

Steve Smith’s redemption arc with Australia reached a crescendo last week as Australia secured a historic victory against India in the third Test of the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Steve Smith led the Australian side in the absence of their full-time captain Pat Cummins, who returned home ahead of the Indore Test for personal reasons. Steve Smith continues to lead the Baggy Greens in the fourth Test in Ahmedabad and is likely to lead the team in the upcoming ODI series at home as well.

Steve Smith lost his captaincy back in 2018 when the uproar about the ball-tampering scandal shook the cricketing world, with Australia’s captain shouldering most of the responsibility. But since then, the Australian star has slowly made his comeback in the Australian side, showing maturity on the field and continuing to perform with the bat. With Australia’s victory in the third Test of the series, Steve Smith has once again bolstered his leadership credentials.


Steve Smith’s Stats As Captain

Originally entering the team as a right-arm leg spinner, Steve Smith was appointed as Australia’s Test captain in 2015 after the retirement of Michael Clarke. Between 2014 and 2018, Steve Smith led Australia in 34 Tests, leading the team to victory in 18 fixtures and losing 10. With a Win-Loss ratio of 1.8, Steve Smith converted Australia into a leading team in Test cricket. A 4-0 victory over their arch-rivals England in the 2017-18 Ashes series counts among the best phases of Steve Smith’s captaincy.

Against India, Steve Smith led from the front in the first Test of the 2017 Border-Gavaskar Trophy, scoring a century in the second innings to give Australia their first win on Indian soil since 2014. Since his return to Test cricket in 2019, Steve Smith has led Australia in three Tests, leading his team to victory in all three of them.

As a batsman, Steve Smith has been prolific while being Australia’s captain. In the 34 fixtures he led the team between 2014 and 2018, Steve Smith has scored 3659 runs at an average of 70.36 – drawing comparisons to the likes of Don Bradman. This included 15 half-centuries and 13 centuries, with the Australian captain winning the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year award twice – in 2015 and 2017 – the only player to do so. For a large part of his captaincy, Steve Smith remained the No. 1 Test batsman in the world, with only Virat Kohli rivalling him.


Better Suited As A Captain?

Steve Smith’s tactics during the Indore Test received praise from both critics and fans. Unlike Pat Cummins, Steve Smith was active in managing the field and rotating the bowlers to destabilise India’s batting order. It is an accepted fact that batsmen are better suited for captaincy roles in cricket than bowlers, as the role requires the constant presence of mind while the team is fielding. Bowlers have a difficult time balancing their physical and mental energy drain while they are in the middle – in contrast to a specialist batsman like Steve Smith who can focus all his energies on the team’s strategies.

This was evident in the Indore Test, with Australia making the minutest of fielding changes every single ball to make the Indian batsmen think. The constant rotation of Australia’s spinners, even when they were successfully taking wickets, was Steve Smith’s way of unsettling India’s batsmen. To add to it all, Steve Smith and Alex Carey came up with a new method to force the umpires to use the DRS even while not taking it officially.

Pat Cummins has been successful as Australia’s captain since his appointment, but it is evident that Australia lack the fear factor that they once commanded in the minds of their opponents. The return of Steve Smith as captain has reignited old rivalries within India, notching up the intensity of the last two Tests among both Indian and Australian fans.

While Steve Smith himself stated that he has no interest in coveting the role of Australia’s full-time captain, there is a very vocal section of commentators and fans who want to see his return. With the ICC ODI World Cup 2023 coming up in November, Australia would want stability in their leadership group. As of now, Steve Smith has adjusted well into his role as Australia’s full-time vice-captain and stand-in captain. The relationship between Pat Cummins and Steve Smith has been cordial, and it remains to be seen how Cricket Australia will manage the duo’s responsibilities in the field.

Steve Smith might not take over the responsibility of full-time captaincy anytime soon, but his return as a stand-in captain for the team, along with the respect he commands from his teammates is a good omen for Australia’s future.




Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.