The great Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne has questioned the appointment of Steve Smith as Australia’s new vice-captain ahead of the 2021/22 Ashes.
Smith was recently elevated to an official leadership position for his country for the first time since he was stripped of the captaincy in 2018 following the Sandpapergate scandal that engulfed Australian cricket, replacing Pat Cummins who was promoted to the captaincy in the wake of Tim Paine’s resignation.
Warne, speaking on the Today Show, argued that all-rounder Mitchell Marsh was a more suitable vice-captaincy candidate.
Warne said: “I’m happy with Pat Cummins, terrific person who has earned the respect all cricketers and the cricket community around the world. Steve Smith – we know what a great person Steve Smith is, he just made a horrible mistake a while ago when he was captain and under his watch, Sandpapergate happened.
“So I don’t understand how it’s okay for the previous captain under Sandpapergate would be allowed a leadership position again but David Warner never have a leadership role and he was just a player, it doesn’t make any sense to me.
“I would have rather Mitch Marsh actually to be vice-captain and come back into the side, or Marnus Labuschagne, would have preferred that, time for a clean slate and just move on. But let’s hope it all works out.”
Marsh has had a stop-start Test career but was recently the Player of the Match in the T20 World Cup final and boasts a formidable Ashes record. While his overall career numbers might not leap off the page – a batting average of 25.20 and a bowling average of 38.64 after 32 Tests – his Ashes statistics are excellent; across seven Ashes Tests he averages 45.44 with the bat and 24.46 with the ball and scored two hundreds during Australia’s 4-0 win in 2017/18. Marsh hasn’t played a Test since the 2019 Ashes series finale, where he took 5-46 in the first innings at The Oval.
Warne’s view on Marsh’s captaincy credentials seemed to have evolved over the years. When Marsh was previously handed the vice-captaincy in 2018 for Australia’s tour of the UAE, Warne said: “He’s done OK, but I don’t think he’s cemented his spot and that’s why it was a strange selection as vice-captain.”
Marsh is currently not included in Australia’s 15-man squad for the first Test at Brisbane.