Australia inviting ‘ridicule and criticism’ by making Steve Smith vice-captain, blasts Shane Warne

Steve Smith’s potential return to captaincy during the Ashes has left Australia open to ridicule, according to Shane Warne.

Several former players have been critical of the decision to appoint Smith as Pat Cummins’ vice-captain less than four years since he lost the captaincy for his part in Australia’s ball-tampering shame in South Africa.

And Warne has been at the front of the queue, writing of Smith in his Herald Sun column: ‘In my opinion announcing him as vice-captain opens up Cricket Australia for ridicule and criticism.’

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Steve Smith (right) has been appointed as Pat Cummins’ vice-captain for Ashes series

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Normally it is England engulfed in crisis on the eve of an Ashes series but Tim Paine’s lewd sex text scandal has triggered a series of events that has led to the integrity of the Australian team being scrutinised ahead of the opening Test in Brisbane on December 8.

Ian Chappell lambasted Cricket Australia for not making a clean break when selecting Cummins as their first fast bowler as permanent Test captain and reopened old wounds in questioning why David Warner’s misdemeanours were seen as greater than those of Smith in 2018’s sandpaper-gate.

While Smith was given a two-year leadership ban for turning a blind eye to events in Cape Town that spring, Warner’s punishment was career-long. ‘We all love Steve Smith and are proud that he’s the best Test batsmen in the world again, but he should not be the Australian vice-captain,’ said Warne.

Steve Smith cried when the scandal forced him to step down as Test captain in 2018

‘Everyone makes mistakes we know that and we’ve moved on from sandpaper-gate. But that happened under Steve Smith’s captaincy; he allowed that to happen on his watch. I think the punishment he was given was way too severe, which I said at the time. He paid a huge price for his mistake. But his second chance is getting to play for Australia again and in my opinion announcing him as vice-captain opens up Cricket Australia for ridicule and criticism and they should throw the code of conduct out the window.’

The choice of 28-year-old Cummins, a likeable figure within the international game who recently became a father, arguably increases the likelihood of Smith wearing the armband during the most condensed Ashes in memory.

Cummins’ injury troubles have been such that almost 2,000 days passed between his first and second Test appearances and, although he has proved more robust as an ever present for the past three years, the schedule of five matches in six weeks will inevitably send bowlers into the ‘red zone’ where niggles occur with greater frequency.

Former players including Aussie legend Shane Warne have criticised Smith’s appointment

He has also become the man Australia have turned to when a breakthrough is required, making one of his immediate challenges not to over-bowl himself.

Another problem is the lack of experience Australia’s 47th Test captain possesses. Cummins is just the second appointment in the past 45 years, after Michael Clarke, not to have captained at state level. But he was viewed as the candidate to offer stability at a time when Australian cricket has been hit by another maelstrom.

Paine resigned the captaincy and then withdrew from all cricket as Renee Ferguson, the woman he sent the indecorous messages to, filed a sexual harassment claim against Cricket Tasmania unrelated to the Paine revelations.

Australia are expected to name Paine’s replacement behind the stumps today, with Leeds-born Josh Inglis rivalling another uncapped player in Alex Carey.

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