Former Australian captain Steve Smith's lukewarm response to a question about NSW teammate Pat Cummins' performance as captain has left commentators questioning if he's keen to regain the job he lost in 2018.
Cummins steered the Blues to a 59-run Marsh Cup victory over Victoria last week, with his own knock of 49 and three-wicket haul a key part of the win.
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Smith had already said it was 'not his place' to discuss Cummins' future as captain prior to the match, but when quizzed on his teammate's first performance as skipper he wasn't exactly full of praise for the fast bowler.
“He was good; pretty easy day I think today,” Smith said.
“I don’t think there was too much to do. Not a tough day, but did good on his first day.”
Speaking on the ABC's sports program Outsiders on Sunday morning, panellist Kelli Underwood said she suspected Smith was eyeing off a tilt at regaining the captaincy he lost as a result of the 2018 ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
Underwood said Smith was unlikely to skipper Australia again.
"Hardly an endorsement,” Underwood said of Smith's comments.
“That’s a man who wants his captaincy back. I don’t think he’s going to get it.”
Fellow panellist and ABC commentator Alistair Nicholson said he was surprised by Smith's tone, suggesting the former skipper had shown his hand more than he might have intended in his answer.
— Offsiders ABC (@OffsidersABC) February 21, 2021
Used to playing a 'straight bat' to interviewers' prickly questions, Nicholson said Smith's career would be better off without the captaincy weighing him down.
"(Cricketers) know how to deliver the right line to a difficult question typically. For him to deviate so far away from that I think is quite telling," Nicholson said.
“I wish Steve Smith didn’t want the captaincy back. I think he’s so much a better player without it and without that burden on his shoulders.
“But still, he’s a professional athlete and he’s driven by the want to be the absolute best he can be and he wants to right the wrong of before and be the captain again. But I don’t think he will be.
“And Pat Cummins is the complete package. I think he’d do a great job.”
Finch wants domestic one-day cup review
Australia's short-form captain Aaron Finch has backed calls for an overhaul to domestic cricket, saying Australia is out of step with the rest of the world.
Finch is preparing to lead the T20 national side in a five-game series in New Zealand, beginning on Monday, but had plenty to say from his quarantine room in Christchurch when asked about the local game.
"I'd like to see it reshaped, but how that looks I'm not exactly sure," he said.
Cricket Australia (CA) is considering reform of the maligned 50-over competition, which was previously a home-and-away season held alongside Sheffield Shield matches.
In recent years it's been a quick standalone tournament played out of the limelight - in stark contrast to the popular and growing BBL.
COVID-19 has bludgeoned this season's schedule to a 15-match affair, with the top two sides to advance to a one-off final.
Finch said the diminished number of one-day matches was bad for development.
"The amount of 50-over cricket domestically we play compared to everyone else around the world is is chalk and cheese," he said.
"Five games (each) this year ... compared to other countries playing 10 plus games every year.
"I would love to see players playing more (and) particularly young guys who are still trying to learn their craft.
"By the time I was maybe 24, I'd played maybe 40 or 50 games whereas guys now might have played 15."
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