Steve Smith could return from his year-long suspension as the captain of Australia if a high-profile Cricket Australia director gets his way.
Mark Taylor, a former captain of Australia himself, has sat on the CA board since 2013 and is one of cricket’s most respected figures.
Taylor – a long-time commentator with the Nine Network – has recently been linked to the position of Cricket Australia chairman, currently held by David Peever.
And he gave Smith a glowing endorsement on Sunday as the 28-year-old batsman’s ban for his part in the ball-tampering scandal was discussed on Channel Nine’s Sports Sunday.
“I still think Steve Smith can captain Australia,” Taylor said.
“Steve to me … everyone wants to label people … is not a cheat.
“Steve Smith was guilty of negligence in my opinion. He saw something going on and he didn’t stamp it out. That’s a mistake of negligence.
“He’s not a cheat. He’s a very good person. And to me, that’s the biggest damage that’s happened over the past few months.
“I think if he ever does come back and captain Australia, it will make him a better captain.”
Reports of bad culture overblown: Taylor
Taylor also shared his confidence in newly-appointed coach Justin Langer.
Langer, 47, will coach Australia in all three formats and faces a difficult first year in charge with Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft banned, and the team’s image at an all-time low after the ill-fated tour of South Africa.
Addressing reports of a poor culture within the Australian team, Taylor said: “I don’t think the culture is that bad.
“It certainly … that was a real low point, I think, South Africa.
“There was a bad incident … there was a run out in a Test match … David Warner ran out their best batsman and the reaction was bad.
“And the culture was slowly but surely dropping off around that time.
“I think it can be resurrected and I think it will be under Justin Langer.”
Warner and Smith speak out
As part of Cricket Australia’s sanctions, Smith, Warner and Bancroft are required to complete community service of a cricket nature.
Warner was in the Northern Territory over the weekend, helping out at a range of cricket clinics.
He told The NT News he had been humbled by the public’s support of him in recent times.
“The support has been fantastic,” he said.
“It is humbling and overwhelming … sometimes with our society, something has to happen for the worst for people to come out and show a lot of support and I think I’ve learned a valuable lesson in this.”
Smith recently took to Instagram to share a similar view about the general public.
“It’s great to be back home in Australia. I have had some time away to come to terms with everything and now it’s time to get back into it,” he said.
“The amount of emails and letters I have received has been incredible and I have been extremely humbled by the enormous amount of support you have given me.
“I now have a lot to do to earn back your trust.”