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Absolutely no one was expecting the drama that engulfed the Australian cricket team in the hours before the second Test at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday, and least of all stand-in captain Steve Smith.
Smith was handed the Australian captaincy again for the first time being stripped of it after the 2018 ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
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Captain Pat Cummins is watching the day-night Test from his hotel room after being deemed a close contact of a Covid-19 case, which means he must isolate for seven days.
The dramatic turn of events mean Smith is captaining Australia once again for the first time since the sandpaper scandal that rocked cricket nearly four years ago.
And one telling detail in photos of Smith at Thursday's coin toss illustrates just how underprepared the Aussies were for Cummins' forced absence.
Fans noticed that Smith was wearing Cummins' blazer while out in the middle with counterpart Joe Root.
Smith obviously hadn't brought his own blazer to Adelaide, thinking Cummins was a certainty to play.
He was therefore forced to wear his skipper's jacket featuring the number 47 embroidered on the breast pocket - signifying Cummins as Australia's 47th Test captain.
— Laura Jolly (@JollyLauz18) December 16, 2021
"It's a huge honour obviously," Smith said after winning the toss and electing to bat.
"It has been a pretty interesting morning, a bit been going on.
"I feel for Patty obviously missing this game.
"But I will try and lead on the way he started last week and hopefully we can have a really good week."
Controversy erupts over Steve Smith captaincy appointment
Smith was made vice-captain when Cummins took the reins following Tim Paine's sexting scandal.
He was banned from international cricket for a year and barred from any leadership role for two years after the infamous sandpaper scandal during a Test in South Africa in March 2018.
Smith predicted "some negativity from some people" when appointed vice-captain, with Ian Chappell and Shane Warne subsequently panning his return to the leadership role.
"There will be some negativity from some people around it," Smith said last month.
"I understand that and I get that. But for me, I know that I've grown a great deal over the last three or four years.
"I'm a more rounded individual. And in turn, I think it's turned me into a better leader."
Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley urged the nation's cricket-loving public to support Smith.
"He has by own admission grown a lot as a person. He has done a huge amount of good work in the community," Hockley told reporters.
"We have run a really thorough process for these latest leadership positions.
"And certainly the national selection panel and the board, we felt that he had demonstrated that he was absolutely good to hold a leadership position again.
"And the fact that we have appointed him as vice-captain, he's the best person to step in, in this eventuality, for this Test match."
However not everyone is on board, with some fans still in disbelief that Smith could be made captain again.
Without a doubt it is an absolute joke Steve Smith is captaining an #Ashes test match having been sacked as Australia captain for disgracing the game itself.
Whilst Tim Paine sits there post 'resignation' for an irrelevant issue his career in tatters.
— Fred (@OneFredOne) December 16, 2021
Whatever the outcome of this match and series, it is an absolute joke that Steve Smith is being allowed to captain Australia again
— Fraser Webb (@fraser_webb) December 16, 2021
Stupid that Cummins can’t play after testing negative. An absolute disgrace that Steve Smith is Captaining Oz. #Ashes
— Colsie (@Joelcoles) December 16, 2021
The fact that cricket Australia have re-instated that cheat Steve smith in any capacity role is a disgrace. #ASHES
— Dan Owen (@MOT_DAN) December 16, 2021
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