Steve Smith was named as Australia’s new vice-captain last Friday ahead of the Ashes, with the 32-year-old returning to a leadership role for the first time since being stripped of the captaincy in 2018
Over three and a half years ago, Smith’s stint as Australia’s captain ended with a scandal of his own after he was slapped with a year’s ban for his involvement in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal.
Smith was also banned from holding any leadership role for two years, but Paine’s sudden resignation has seen Cricket Australia take the decision to make him their new vice-captain, with Pat Cummins becoming skipper.
And Australian legends like Shane Warne and Ian Chappell have been critical of Smith’s appointment, with the 32-year-old set to take up the role for the upcoming Ashes series against England beginning on December 8.
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Chappell believes the Australian side needed to make a “clean break” following the Paine scandal and questioned why Smith is eligible for a leadership role but David Warner is not.
Warner was also involved in the ball-tampering scandal and was given a lifetime ban from holding a leadership position.
Speaking to 2GB’s Wide World of Sport, Chappell said: “I wish that Cricket Australia had made a clean break, but for Cricket Australia to get anything right at the moment is asking a bit much.
“Cheating is cheating, whether it’s big cheating or little cheating, it’s still cheating in my book.
“Why is Steve Smith looked upon as a different punishment to David Warner? In fact, if anything, I think Steve Smith’s crime was greater.
“For a captain to say, ‘I don’t want to know’ when cheating is involved, is not correct. A captain’s got to know, he’s got to find out and he’s got to do something about it.”
Legendary leg-spinner Warne has also criticised the appointment of Smith, insisting that it has left Australia open to “ridicule and criticism”.
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Writing in his column for the Herald Sun, Warne said: “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.
“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.”