Nathan Lyon weighs in on Steve Smith captaincy controversy

·5-min read
Pictured from left, Steve Smith, Nathan Lyon and Australian Test cricket captain Tim Paine.
Nathan Lyon has given his two cents about who should captain Australia. Pic: Getty

In terms of endorsements for Australian cricket captain, they don't come much stronger than Nathan Lyon's.

Now that ex-skipper Steve Smith's leadership ban for the ball-tampering scandal is up, debate has heated up as to whether he should be given his role back as Aussie captain.

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While some believe Smith should be handed the captaincy again very soon, Shane Warne was one who recently hosed down those suggestions, saying he'd rather Smith just focus on batting.

“I’m sure he could captain Australia again but if I was a selector I wouldn’t,” Warne told the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast.

“I just want Smith to bat, I don’t want him to worry about the other stuff. I just want him to bat and bat and bat. He is a leader on the field anyway and I don’t think he needs to captain.

Most supporters of Smith point to current captain Tim Paine's age as a reason why Australia needs to think about making a change.

However, Lyon has now had his say, insisting the 35-year-old current skipper "is growing each and every day" and "getting better as captain".

"Tim Paine has been absolutely incredible for the Australian cricket team," Lyon told reporters in a video conference on Tuesday.

"The way he's gone out and led this team, it's been unbelievable to be honest ... I truly believe that he's growing each and every day, he seems to be getting better as captain."

Paine was handed the job in 2018 after Smith was banned for 12 months for his part in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.

Lyon says the leadership that Paine has shown in one of the most turbulent periods is awe-inspiring and expects the wicketkeeper to continue in the role for the foreseeable future.

"If you looked around that change-room at that time, I think Tim Paine really got up in my eyes, really stood up and could take that challenge on," he added.

"He took the captaincy on in the hardest time in Australian cricket and he's done an amazing job."

With Australia postponing their tour of Bangladesh in June in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lyon is looking forward to India's return later this year, even if the matches have to be played behind closed doors.

"I'm excited about the prospect of India coming out to Australia, it's up there with the biggest series alongside the Ashes," he said.

"Playing in front of crowds or no crowds is out of our control, we've got to follow the advice of all the amazing medical people around the world."

It seems unlikely 30-year-old Smith will take over a full-time captaincy role again for Australia, at least in the short-term future.

The superstar batsman has been repeatedly pressed on leadership for the past year, but both he and coach Justin Langer also continue to back Paine and Aaron Finch to stay in their captaincy roles with the national teams.

Paine has helped rebuild the Test team to No.3 in the world, and at age 35 seems intent to play on until at least midway through the next year.

Finch took Australia to the semi-finals of last year's one-day World Cup, and together with Paine combined for an unbeaten home summer across all formats.

When one of the pair do retire, it will likely become a decision between Smith and quick Pat Cummins for who leads Australia next.

Indian Premier League postponed indefinitely

Smith was one of a host of Aussies set to play in the Indian Premier League this year, although the tournament has now been postponed indefinitely because of the coronavirus crisis.

The decision comes after India extended a lockdown on its 1.3 billion people until at least May 3 on Tuesday.

The eight-team Twenty20 competition league, which was originally scheduled to begin on March 29, was initially deferred until Wednesday before India announced a three-week lockdown last month.

IPL governing council chairman Brijesh Patel did not take calls or reply to a Reuters message to comment on the possible dates of the tournament.

One of the franchise officials Reuters reached said they were waiting to hear from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which met over a conference call on Tuesday.

BCCI president Sourav Ganguly had earlier acknowledged the difficulty in hosting the tournament amid lockdown and the travel restrictions forced by the global health crisis.

"At the present moment, we can't say anything," the former India captain told New India Express newspaper at the weekend.

"Airports are shut, people are stuck at home, offices are locked down, nobody can go anywhere. And it seems this is how it's going to be till the middle of May.

"Where will you get players from, where do players travel. It's just simple common sense that at the moment, nothing is in favour of any kind of sport anywhere in the world, forget IPL."

with agencies

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