An Indian Premier League side has sparked fierce debate on social media over a contentious move involving former Australia captain Steve Smith.
IPL strugglers Rajasthan Royals on Saturday named Steve Smith as their new captain despite the Australian being barred from leading the national team over the infamous ball-tampering scandal.
Smith, who along with compatriot David Warner missed the 2018 IPL because of the scandal, will replace India’s Ajinkya Rahane.
“Ajinkya has done a terrific job over the last year and a half,” Smith said after winning the toss in his first game as leader against Mumbai Indians in Jaipur.
“The owners thought there should be a change in the leadership, and he’ll be part of the leadership group as well,” Smith added.
Smith’s promotion to the captaincy certainly proved divisive for fans on social media.
Steve smith on a field as a captain. Best thing to watch after a long long time… #RRvMI
— Tejas Joshi (@tejas_h_joshi) April 20, 2019
— Rana Ambalika (@RanaAmbalika) April 20, 2019
Poor .. Steve Smith cannot be the captain even in his own alley cricket team … Very poor @BCCI
— Sagar Sawant (@sagsaw) April 20, 2019
Absolutely Glad to hear that Steve Smith will captian for rest of Rajasthan Royals season😍😍😍
— Aussie fan (@rajeshsmart) April 20, 2019
Poor decision making by choosing Steve Smith as captain @rajasthanroyals Won't change fortune. Choose right players but making wrong selection is the reason for current situation of RR. Sadly no/poor thinking by think tank.😭😭
— Amit Sharma (@AmitSha36076084) April 20, 2019
— Dipesh Barot (@dipeshbarot) April 20, 2019
— Daniel Feleppa (@FeleppaDaniel) April 20, 2019
Steve Smith is not trusted for captaincy by his own country men.. now RR throat him with captaincy.. Terrible mudelled thinking..
— Harish Kumar (@harish_kum) April 20, 2019
Steve Smith is the right captain who should have been before the IPL started
— arjun singh (@arjun1991kanda1) April 20, 2019
The former Australia captain has made his way back into the national team for the upcoming World Cup but cannot take on formal leadership responsibilities for another year.
Smith and Warner’s one-year cheating ban ended March 28 and the two have launched into the IPL campaign as they seek to restore their reputations.
Smith has scored 186 runs in seven IPL games, including a 73 not out. The 2008 champions are seventh in the eight-team table with just two wins.
The team management are gambling on Smith boosting confidence to get the side to the play-offs.
“Steve is one of the most innovative and successful captains in the world, in all formats of the game,” said Rajasthan’s head of cricket Zubin Bharucha.
“We are confident he can lead the Royals to success.”
The duo’s suspension did not include club games, but IPL’s governing council decided not to allow Smith and Warner to compete in last year’s tournament to avoid controversy.
The pair were banned for cheating in a South Africa-Australia Test in March last year along with teammate Cameron Bancroft, who was banned for nine-months.