Smith addresses fresh Bancroft scandal
STEVE Smith can't hold a leadership position in Australian cricket for the next year, but he's backed Cameron Bancroft to do the job as skipper after the disgraced opener won a captaincy gig that HAS sparked heated debate.
Bancroft was named captain of Durham after inking a deal with the English county side this season following his suspension for his role in the ball tampering affair in South Africa last year.
England fast bowling legend Darren Gough labelled the call a "disgrace" and fellow former England seamer Phillip DeFreitas also questioned the wisdom of the decision.
Durham director of cricket Marcus North - a former Australian star who played with Bancroft at Western Australia - defended the call and now Smith has also weighed in, saying his former Test colleague is up to the task.
"Cam is a good choice for captain," Smith told ESPNcricinfo.
"He's got a good head on his shoulders and has shown great character in the way he has come back after his time out.
"It has been a tough time for him no doubt, but he's a good guy who will do his best for Durham and will lead them well. He gets the game pretty well and has a good understanding of strategy and players.
"He's found a bit of form with the bat and will be able to use his experience in a positive way.
"I'm sure he is itching to get out there and show what he can do and give his best. County cricket is a great environment and Cam will make the most of his chance I'm sure to show what it means to him."
Bancroft's nine-month ban ended in December and he returned to top-flight cricket via the Big Bash League, where he played some impressive knocks for the Perth Scorchers.
The right-hander played 11 games for the franchise last season, scoring 298 runs at an average of 33.11 with a best of 87 not out.
Bancroft was also strong in his comeback to the Sheffield Shield.
He carried his bat for an unbeaten 138 followed by a second-innings 86 in a sensational display against NSW in the first four-day game after the BBL break, then backed that up with two more half centuries against South Australia and Queensland.
Joe Burns, Marcus Harris and David Warner appear to be fighting for the two opening spots for this year's Ashes but if Bancroft piles on the runs on the county circuit he may force his way in as a spare batsman in what will likely be a 17-man squad.
Last month, North backed Durham's call to hand Bancroft the reins, saying a lack of experience and obvious captaincy contenders in the squad gave the county few options to pick from outside of the Aussie star.
"I understand there will be opinions about Cameron being in a leadership role," North told The Guardian in March.
"We're not condoning the issue he had in South Africa with the Australian team in any way. But this is a guy that I've known before and I've seen him grow up.
"And I am in constant contact with people I trust a lot in Australian cricket. There was a huge amount of thought and information went into that decision.
"This is a guy that, like Steve Smith and David Warner, through that terrible decision that they made, have suffered.
"Through experience, people learn and grow.
"Through the experience Cameron has had at a young age and coming out of that experience now, well, is there a better person to speak to our young players about how to play the game?"
North also suggested the captaincy role was vacant because other players had turned down the job in order to concentrate on their own careers.
"Though various things that happened at the club, Durham lost their succession plan in recent years," he added.
"Someone like Cameron will lead by example, will play in every game, you know the qualities he's going to add.
"I want to see the best of Cameron Bancroft."