The Sydney Test, set to take place from January 3rd to January 7th next year, will be the last one played under the leadership ban Steve Smith was given. But is that even relevant when one considers how excellently Tim Paine’s been doing in his place?
The rumour mill has been in full swing over the summer regarding what Australia may do with the captaincy once Paine retires or gets dropped. Some speculate that this could be his last season in charge. But no one seems to have told Paine, who despite being 35-years old has almost certainly cast aside all questions about his future in the short-term.
One thing Smith’s got going for him is Paine’s poor record with the Umpire Decision Review System. Many of his review calls have been wrong and he has also hesitated even when replays have shown decisive evidence that making a decision would have changed things in his favour.
Another issue since Smith came back during the Ashes is field placement. Although Paine gladly consults Smith, the former captain has also made certain tweaks to placings that Paine put in place without checking with the current skipper first.
But Paine’s Melbourne Boxing Day Test Match versus New Zealand was one of his finest ever, and he’s shown that he wants to continue captaining, making repeated references to June 2021’s World Test Championship Final. Australia has returned to the No 2 position worldwide under his leadership, and things may get very complicated.
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