CA confront 'no-win' scenario post-Paine

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Cricket Australia faces fresh questions regarding disclosure and double standards as it prepares to lock in a captain and vice-captain, with Steve Smith's fate likely to prove divisive.

CA's board, plunged into crisis mode because of sexting revelations that prompted Tim Paine to step down as men's Test captain, has urgently shifted attention to a successor.

Pat Cummins remains the frontrunner, although CA chair Richard Freudenstein noted Smith will be considered amid a "very thorough but brief process" to appoint Australia's 47th Test skipper.

Smith, having served a two-year leadership ban imposed by CA in the aftermath of the Cape Town cheating scandal, declared in March he was open to returning to the pressure-laden post.

Yet the former skipper could be overlooked altogether by a governing body desperate to restore focus on the Ashes opener that begins December 8, rather than past sins.

Former CA and International Cricket Council chief executive Malcolm Speed argued the board was in a "no-win situation" after failing to disclose the Paine investigation in 2018.

"That's one of the closing doors ... there's always the possibility that it will become public. These things generally do, it's very hard to keep a secret in sport," Speed told SEN.

AAP spoke to a notable former captain of Australia's Test side, who questioned CA's approach at the critical juncture.

"They're still trying to cover things up," he said.

"Go back to 1994, when Mark Waugh and Shane Warne were found with John the bookmaker. They tried to cover that up, it didn't come out until '98.

"They haven't learned anything.

"If Paine's not fit to be captain now, which he's obviously not, then once they found out (in 2018) that should have been it.

"The only reason I assume Paine kept his job is because they liked him at board level, there is a major problem if that's how you base your judgements.

"If they were to appoint Smith, as captain or vice-captain, I'd be asking the same question. If he wasn't fit for the captaincy back then, why is he suddenly fit now?"

The headlines and hate generated by Smith, at the start of this year when he marked the SCG pitch while shadow batting as a fielder, underline the additional scrutiny he will battle if donning the blazer again.

CA will be keen to rebut allegations of being optics-obsessed and opaque, but it won't be easy.

The Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA), which previously lobbied for Smith and David Warner's sandpaper-related sanctions to be downgraded, has made its unease about Freudenstein's Paine comments clear.

"Not a lot has changed in the last four years, other than that the matter has become public," ACA boss Todd Greenberg told SEN.

"Tim went through this investigation at the time, he was very forthcoming.

"He made an enormous mistake. But what of us have not made mistakes?

"We need to be careful about saying whoever will take over the captaincy will be perfect as well.

"We're not appointing the Archbishop of Canterbury here ... if our expectation is the captain is perfect, we will be in a lot of trouble."

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