'Be very careful': Michael Clarke's startling warning to Steve Smith

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Pictured left, former Australia captain Tim Paine alongside teammate Steve Smith.
Former Test captain Michael Clarke says Steve Smith needs to be careful if he's reinstated to a leadership role in Australian cricket. Pic: Getty

Former Test captain Michael Clarke has issued a stunning warning to star batter Steve Smith about his potential reinstatement to a captaincy role in Australian cricket.

Smith is widely tipped to be named Australia's Test vice-captain, with fast bowler Pat Cummins expected to replace Tim Paine as skipper in the wake of the sexting scandal.

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Paine quit in disgrace last Friday as it became clear sexting revelations would enter the public domain.

Cummins, who was last year installed as Australia's sole vice-captain in all three formats, could be formally appointed Test skipper by the end of this week.

A five-person panel, headed by Cricket Australia (CA) chair Richard Freudenstein and chief executive Nick Hockley, have been assessing candidates this week.

Selectors George Bailey and Tony Dodemaide, plus CA director Mel Jones will also have a voice at the table, with the board to make the final call.

Clarke, who has given his backing for Cummins to take the top job, issued a warning to Smith if he is announced as the quick's deputy.

Considering Cummins would be the first fast bowler to captain Australia since Ray Lindwall filled in for one Test in 1956, many feel if the paceman is named captain then he would lean heavily on Smith's leadership experience.

Clarke says Smith would need to be careful if this is the case, with the star batter copping plenty of backlash for seemingly dictating terms in the field during Paine's reign as skipper.

“He’s got to be careful Smithy, because he copped some criticism for doing that when Tim Paine took over the captaincy as well,” Clarke said on The Big Sports Breakfast.

“That he was standing in slip waving his hands, moving the field. If he is vice-captain or even if he is not, he has got to be very careful. There can only be one captain on the field.

“That is what leadership is about as well, owning that. If it is Pat Cummins, he can take advice and guidance but then it’s up to him to be making the decisions.”

Seen here, Australia's paceman Pat Cummins during a Test match against India in 2021.
Paceman Pat Cummins has received plenty of backing to take over as Australia's next Test captain. Pic: Getty

Steve Smith already under intense spotlight

Clarke says the former captain's actions are already more heavily scrutinised in the wake of the Cape Town cheating saga, and highlighted an incident involving Smith in a Test match against India at the SCG earlier this year as proof.

Smith was spotted appearing to rub out the guard marks made by Indian batsman Rishabh Pant with his foot, with former England player Darren Gough labelling it “plain cheating”.

The former captain’s actions were also slammed by retired international stars Michael Vaughan and Virender Sehwag, who assumed his scratching was an effort to unsettle Pant’s rhythm.

Clarke insists that adding a captaincy role into the mix for Smith merely compounds the scrutiny on the star batter.

“I don’t think Steve Smith understands how extreme it is going to be,” Clarke added.

“He got a tiny glimpse of it last summer against India when he scruffed the pitch and was called the biggest cheat on the planet. I don’t think he understands how heavy it is going to be on him.

“Since he’s come back, he’s helped this team win so many games of cricket. He has played a leadership role in the team and is doing a brilliant job.

“I think he can help the team more by supporting if it is Pat Cummins, scoring a truckload of runs and helping Australia win games.”

with AAP

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