Greg Chappell says brutal leadership stresses can grind Smith down

Test great Greg Chappell believes Steve Smith may well captain Australia again – but hopes, for the man and his country’s sake, he is just left to bat.

Speaking on Fox Cricket’s Road To The Ashes podcast, Chappell remains unconvinced that taxing Australia’s best batting resource with the sapping burden of captaincy is the best option for the man or his team.

When asked whether Smith could regain the Test captaincy he lost after the 2018 ball tampering scandal in South Africa, Chappell replied “oh yes, he could’’ before explaining his reservations.

“Whether that’s the best thing for him from a cricket point of view and for the team from a cricket point of view…because there’s no doubt the extra mental energy that the captaincy demands takes a lot out of a player.

Greg Chappell says Steve Smith shouldn’t be captain again. Picture: David ClarkSource:News Corp Australia

“And you know I think well I saw it the first time around. I thought by the end of each series he was running out of gas and I’d rather see him just keep making runs to be honest.’’

Chappell’s thoughts are significant because he was one of the first major voices to identity Smith’s supreme talent and, as a selector, lobbied strongly to squeeze him into the Test team a decade ago, telling people privately he felt Smith would be the game’s next batting superstar.

With Tim Paine liked to retire soon after next summer’s Ashes, Smith and Pat Cummins remain Australia’s only two realistic Test captaincy options.

Smith has flagged the possibility of missing the T20 World Cup in Dubai in October to prepare himself for next summer’s Ashes and Chappell feels the move makes sense.

“He’s got to do what’s right for him and obviously the Ashes will be a priority. So I think that would be sensible.

Steve Smith has been encouraged to focus on his batting rather than becoming captain again. Picture: Ryan Pierse/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“Having him fresh and ready to go for the Ashes would be fantastic and don’t worry about the lack of cricket. He would have played a thousand innings in his head before he gets to that first Test match. And just the fact that he’s fresh and ready to go will I think be a wonderful thing.’’

As Australia continues to struggle in its search for more outstanding long form batsmen, Chappell said he sympathised with young batsmen trying to develop a Test match technique.

“I think this is probably the hardest year ever for a young batsman to become a top class red ball cricketer because they’re just not playing a lot of red

ball cricket. When we were growing up even though we played a lot of one day

games, they were played with the mentality of a test match. So you developed your style,

your method, your technique whatever you want to call it and you had plenty of time to do

that. I don’t think that’s the case.

“I’m very conscious of a lot of very good coaches that are out there but I think there’s a lot of interference with young players who are bombarded with information. I didn’t see myself bat on video until I was playing Test cricket.’’

Originally published asChappell: Why Smith could captain again … but shouldn’t

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