Australian cricket coach Justin Langer came to Steve Smith’s defence on Tuesday after former Australian captain Ian Chappell suggested that the 30-year-old batsman was “white-anting” his captain Tim Paine in the second Test against Pakistan.
“I thought that was a really strange comment the other day,” Langer said. “It would be absolutely ridiculous of Tim Paine not to be looking like all captains do, and having a talk to Steve Smith, who has been a former captain of Australia.”
“He’d be crazy. We want to encourage all our guys to think like captains and leaders on and off the field. So it’d be ridiculous for Painey not to be asking for it and then channelling the information as is required to whoever needs it. I was actually pleased to see our guys having a leadership impact on the ground,” he said.
Earlier, Chappell felt that Smith undermined his captain behind the wickets by trying to set the field in the Adelaide Test which Australia won by an innings and 48 runs. Smith himself shrugged off the accusation, telling Channel 9, “I only try to help Tim as much as I can”.
Smith captained the team before losing the position in the aftermath of the ball-tampering scandal last year, and Chappell’s accusation came as there was speculation that there is a leadership vacuum in the squad.
“I tell you what I don’t like to see, Steve Smith is moving a few fieldsmen around,” Chappell said on Macquarie Sports Radio during the Test. “I hate to see that. England used to do it a bit, blokes other than the captain and I always felt it was white-anting the captain.”
As for David Warner, who is banned for the rest of his career from holding a leadership position, Langer confirmed that there’s no rush from the Australian team setup to overturn it.
“He’s having a really big impact within the team,” Langer said. “I love having him in the team. I love his energy, I love the way he runs between wickets. Whether it’s a leadership opportunity in the future, as it stands, that won’t be happening.”