Langer: Paine to stall Smith’s captaincy return
AUSTRALIA coach Justin Langer rates Tim Paine the 'best keeper in the world' with an extended shelf-life as skipper but insists Steve Smith can be rehabilitated as Test leader.
Having retained the Ashes, keeper-batsman Paine is 'absolutely' pencilled in for the summer despite battling father time and impressive understudy Alex Carey says Langer.
"Every Australian cricketer has to keep performing but the thing we often we don't recognise is that Tim Paine is the best wicketkeeper in the world," Langer told The Advertiser.
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"He holds his place in the Australian team on that, let alone the captaincy and what he brings to us with the batting. He got a hundred in his first Shield game of the season, led the team very well.
"I love Alex Carey, think he's brilliant the way he performed in the World Cup. The problem for Alex is in the Test team is there is only one wicketkeeper and that happens to be the Test captain."
Legend Ricky Ponting believes Smith should return as skipper once 26-Test veteran Paine, 35 this summer, retires. Langer won't deny Smith a 360 degree redemption from the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal.
"If the time is right and he is the right person, there is no reason why he couldn't do it again. Paid his dues," said Langer of Smith who blasted 774 runs at 110 in the 2019 Ashes in England after serving a one-year ball tampering ban.
Langer is 'confident' Twenty 20 skipper Aaron Finch will front in Sunday's season-opening clash against Sri Lanka in Adelaide despite a side strain. However, Langer backed next generation leaders Carey and Pat Cummins to cover Finch if required.
"Hopefully Finchy is right and if he is not we will deal with it. Alex Carey and Pat Cummins are the two vice captains," said Langer.
Twenty20 specialist Chris Lynn was upset at learning of omission from Australia's 14-man squad to face Sri Lanka and Pakistan via social media. Langer countered that Lynn knows where he stands following the return of Smith and David Warner to the side.
"I keep hearing these little rumblings but it is certainly a focus that our communications are honest and clear," said Langer of Lynn, who hasn't represented Australia for a year.
Former Australian Twenty20 opener Michael Klinger heads aspirants including Brad Hodge and Cameron White to replace Greg Chappell as national selector. Langer says Trevor Hohns' panel doesn't have a communication issue despite Lynn's shot across their bow.
Klinger is seen as a popular choice to streamline player/selector relations.
"His name comes up a lot," said Langer of Klinger.
"Guys like Maxy Klinger ... just out of the game, has an MBA, studied, is a really bright guy, fantastic person. At the end of the day it is about getting fantastic people.
"It is a really important position. It is not a glamorous position."