The fans blocking Smith’s return as Test captain
Steve Smith's chances of returning as Test captain may be shaped by how Australia reacts to numbers claiming one in three fans believe there are better men for the job.
Smith is by no means short of public support in the battle to follow Tim Paine when the incumbent's exceptional stint as Test captain ends.
News Corp's recent survey of more than 1700 readers featured 66 per cent of readers saying they would happily see Smith return to the leadership after the ball tampering scandal while 34 per cent insisted it's time to move on.
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These types of percentages have been similar to a number of surveys over the past year - a solid base of support from a relatively passive majority but a more hostile minority speaking out against him.
The public's view on Smith is significant because former Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said before any decision on Smith's leadership future was made, public opinion would be temperature tested and factored into the call.
Sutherland left his role two years ago but the board he left behind is understood to respect this view that public sentiment, while not the overriding factor, must be assessed at the appropriate time.
If you are a politician, getting two thirds of the vote is exceptional but where Smith is concerned, having one in three voters against him is not an overwhelming endorsement and the number would not want to stretch higher for it to impede his chance of getting his old job back.
Fans who don't want him to return have been more vocal in their feedback and, their reasons stretch beyond him taking responsibility for the ball tampering incident in Cape Town which saw him banned for one year as a player and two as a leader.
Some readers believe it is best for all involved for him to concentrate on his supreme batting talents because when he scores big, Australia wins.
Others say he was not overly suited to captaincy in the first place.
Privately some teammates counter this point by saying there is little doubt he would return to the captaincy a wiser man than when he had it taken off him … that the clipped, concise input he provides to Australian team meetings is that of a sharp, refreshed mind suited to leadership.
Smith does have high level supporters but the departure of Test players Michael Kasprowicz and Mark Taylor from CA board will not help his cause because both were known to support him eventually getting his old job back.
Taylor, while describing the ball tampering bans as necessarily harsh, felt sympathy for Smith and would have been an important voice in the debate over whether he should return.
The reluctance of states to throw up alternative options is helping Smith's cause. Pat Cummins may be Australian vice-captain but he is yet to captain NSW in a first class match.
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Originally published as The fans blocking Smith's return as Test captain