Shane Warne says Steve Smith should focus on batting and not regaining Australia captaincy

Shane Warne told the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast that Steve Smith should focus on batting and not be reinstated as Australia captain.

Smith’s two-year leadership ban following the ball-tampering scandal has elapsed and he is now eligible to succeed Tim Paine as Test skipper.

However, Baggy Greens legend Warne says Paine – who steered Australia to an Ashes-retaining 2-2 draw in England last summer – should keep his job, while he insists Smith is not the only candidate to replace the current captain in the event that a lack of runs sees the 35-year-old dropped.

  • Smith eligible to captain Australia again
  • Paine: I’d support Smith’s return as skipper

“I’m sure he could captain Australia again but if I was a selector I wouldn’t [go that way],” Warne said of Smith, who scored 774 runs in four Ashes Tests in 2019 at an average of 110.57, including three centuries.

Listen to the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast – which also featured Nasser Hussain, Ian Ward and Rob Key – in the player above or by downloading: iTunes | Spotify | Spreaker

“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,” added Warne.

“I would keep Paine as captain as long as he is making runs. He has done a very good job as captain. It’s a different situation if Paine doesn’t make runs and is out of the side as then Smith comes back into calculations.

“But when everyone says there is no one else, it’s amazing who puts their hand up and you suddenly think ‘hang on, there might be’.

“Will it be Travis Head? We know how good a player he can be, although he finds a way to get out all the time around 40 or 50 having done all the hard work. He does a great job captaining South Australia.

“Why couldn’t Pat Cummins do it as a bowler? I think there will be other candidates by the time Paine decides to finish.”

Warne has been keeping busy during the coronavirus lockdown by picking dream teams from the best cricketers he played with and against during his illustrious Test career, one in which he claimed 708 wickets in 145 matches with best figures of 8-71 against England in Brisbane in 1994.

Nasser Hussain made Warne’s finest England XI but missed out to Michael Vaughan for the role as captain.

“I tried to think about who had the biggest impact on some of those series and the reason I went with Nasser – although we all love mocking him – is that his 207 at Edgbaston [in 1997] was a fantastic innings,” said Warne.

Shane Warne’s best England XI he faced

Graham Gooch, Andrew Strauss, Michael Vaughan (c), Kevin Pietersen, Nasser Hussain, Alec Stewart (wk), Andrew Flintoff, Ashley Giles, Darren Gough, Steve Harmison, James Anderson

“He had a couple of other unbelievable innings as well but to set the tone in the first innings of an Ashes series was really good. We had a really good attack as well.

“The toughness he brought to the team and his ability against good bowlers means he made that side over a few others.

“I thought the way Vaughan captained in 2005 was very good. Yes, he had a good side to captain but I thought he did a very good job.

“I think Nasser started the turnaround for England and brought a lot to the table and stamped his authority. So it was either Nasser or Vaughany but the way Vaughany did it in 2005 got the nod for me.

“[Graham] Gooch was the best England player I played against. He was very hard to get out and I loved the way he went about it.

“KP [Kevin Pietersen] was destructive, probably one of the most dangerous in the world, but day in, day out, all conditions, I’d pick Gooch as the best.

Shane Warne’s combined Ashes XI (from players he played with or against)

Graham Gooch, Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh, Kevin Pietersen, Allan Border (c), Adam Gilchrist (wk), Andrew Flintoff, Tim May, Darren Gough, Glenn McGrath

Shane Warne’s best Australia XI he played with

Matthew Hayden, Michael Slater, Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh, Allan Border (c), Steve Waugh, Adam Gilchrist (wk), Tim May, Jason Gillespie, Bruce Reid, Glenn McGrath. 12th man: Merv Hughes

“Not many players have that ability to drag a team with them when things are not going well or inspire them without really saying stuff but Freddie [Andrew Flintoff] had that capability, especially in ’05.

“The way he batted and bowled in that series was one of the reasons England won. England were the better side and deserved to win but Freddie delivered in big moments.

“Andrew Strauss, I thought, had a better technique and was harder to get out than Marcus Trescothick, who was a little bit more dangerous but a little bit looser.

“Every time I bowled to Tres I felt that I could get him out every ball whereas I thought you had to earn Strauss’ wicket a little bit more.

“I thought, watching from slip, that Strauss was a bit more organised against the quickies, so I just gave him the nod over Tres.”

Also on the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast…

– How Warne swiftly went from grade cricket to international cricket with Australia

– Why he was at his best between 1992 and 1996

– Some hilarious battles he had with Carl Hooper, Nasser and Daryl Cullinan

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