Steven Smith, the former Australia captain, will skipper Welsh Fire in The Hundred this year.
Smith was stripped of the Australian captaincy following the Newlands ball-tampering scandal in 2018, banned from playing cricket for year and barred from leading any side under Cricket Australia’s jurisdiction for a further year after his playing ban expired. The leadership sanction will be lifted at the end of March, but it did not extend to the IPL, where he was appointed captain of Rajasthan Royals last April, replacing Ajinkya Rahane eight games into the 2019 edition of the tournament.
At Cardiff-based Welsh Fire, Smith will lead the likes of compatriot Mitchell Starc and England’s Jonny Bairstow and Tom Banton.
“It’s an honour to be asked to captain Welsh Fire in the first year of The Hundred,” Smith said. “Our squad looks super strong with a great group of players who’ve dominated the international and domestic scenes for the past few years.
“Tom Banton is one of the most exciting young players in the world right now and Mitchell Starc brings the X-factor with the ball, so we’re looking to put on an amazing show for the fans in Cardiff.”
Welsh Fire men’s head coach, Gary Kirsten, said: “Steve’s knowledge and experience of leading teams in pressurised situations will definitely help us in this first season of The Hundred. He’s got a track record of getting the best out of his players while performing to a very high standard himself, which will be key for us this summer.”
After an initial stint as Australia captain in 2014-15, replacing the injured Michael Clarke, Smith took over the role upon Clarke’s retirement in late 2015 until March 2018 and the ball-tampering affair. In 93 matches at the helm, he recorded 47 wins across all formats with 37 losses, six drawn Tests and three ODIs ending in no result.
Welsh Fire said in a statement that Smith would lead the team in the competition’s opening fixture against Oval Invincibles at The Oval on July 17, which is the day after Australia’s third and final ODI against England, a day-night match in Bristol.
Smith made his international comeback at last year’s World Cup and then played a pivotal role in Australia retaining the Ashes, in which he was by far the leading run scorer. He is now touring South Africa for Australia’s limited-overs series and on Wednesday returns to Newlands, the scene of the events which led to him being banned along with David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.