Paine makes bombshell Steve Smith call
Steve Smith says he's keen and Tim Paine would be happy to support a decision to have Australia's best batsman replace him as Test captain.
Smith's case has been steadily building as his form remains superb and the stain of South Africa gradually washes away in the eyes of important figures in the Australian cricket fraternity and large parts of the public.
Paine has previously recognised Smith's ambitions to return to the role he lost after the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town but went a step further while speaking at a function for the Chappell Foundation at the SCG on Wednesday night.
Paine, who has secured 11 wins and four draws in 23 matches as skipper, said Smith deserved another opportunity in the top job.
"I think so. Obviously I don't make that decision but the time I played with Steve as captain he was excellent. Certainly tactically he is as good as you get," Paine said.
"He's probably a bit like me when I was at the start of my captaincy journey in Tasmania - he was thrown into a very big role at a very, very young age and he probably wasn't quite ready for it.
"But by the time I came in he was growing into that role and getting better and better. Then obviously South Africa events happened and he's not doing it anymore. But yeah I would support him getting that job again."
Paine's declaration received a rousing reception by the 500-strong audience before he was asked how much longer he expected to be in the role.
"At least another six Tests," said the 36-year-old, who is locked in for a home summer featuring one match against Afghanistan and five-Test Ashes series.
"If I feel like the time is right and we've beaten the Poms 5-0, what a way to go out. But it might be a tight series and we might be chasing 300 on the last day and I'm 100 not out and hit the winning runs - and then I might go again."
Paine: I s*** myself when they made me captain
Paine was initially thrust into the role on day four of the infamous Cape Town Test in 2018 after Smith and vice-captain David Warner stood down from their leadership positions for their roles in the ball-tampering scandal.
A few days later, after the touring party had moved to Johannesburg ahead of the Fourth Test, he was summoned to a meeting at a hotel with high performance manager Pat Howard and Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland and given the job full-time.
"I was pretty much told there'd been a board meeting back in Australia and I was the 46th Test captain of Australia," Paine said.
He went back to his hotel room where he was later joined by his wife, Bonnie, daughter, Milla, and his mum, Sally.
"Mum says it looked like I'd seen a ghost," Paine said. "I was looking out the window and spun around and she said 'what's up with you?'
"I said 'I've just been made the Test captain of Australia. And she said 'yeah, but it's only for this week isn't it?'"
"If I'm totally honest, I s*** myself," Paine added. "I didn't know what to do. I'd captained Tasmania when I was quite young … and looking back I was a horrible captain. I was punchy, aggressive … everything was everyone else's fault, it wasn't my fault."
We got distracted by India's 'sideshows'
After series defeats against Pakistan and India to start his reign, Paine was able to right the ship in 2019 as Australia reeled off triumphs against Sri Lanka, England, Pakistan and New Zealand.
But they lost a dramatic series to India last summer which he indicated came after his team allowed it to be distracted by the visitors.
"Part of the challenge of playing against India is they're very good at niggling you and trying to distract you with stuff that doesn't really matter and there were times in that series where we fell for that," he said.
"The classic example was when they said they weren't going to the Gabba so we didn't know where we were going. They're very good at creating these sideshows and we took our eye off the ball."
Originally published as Paine makes bombshell Steve Smith call