After the selectors reportedly approached the country’s cricket board with a suggestion to hand over the reins to the former skipper, batsman Steve Smith emerged as one of the candidates for Australian Test captaincy on Saturday. Though vice-captain Pat Cummins remains the favourite for the top job, Smith is also in the mix, according to the country’s cricket body, following Tim Paine’s resignation.

After being probed by Cricket Australia (CA) for sending sexual communications to a female coworker in 2017, Paine resigned on Friday. Smith was banned from international cricket for a year and barred from leadership responsibilities for two years for his role in the Cape Town ball-tampering affair and Paine took over as captain in 2018.

During a virtual press conference following Paine’s resignation, CA chairman Richard Freudenstein said, “There are a number of candidates who are available for that post, Steve Smith is one of the prospects that is available for the role.” Meanwhile, there are rumours that the senior national team selectors support Smith’s appointment as captain.

“It’s known the selectors were interested in the concept of Smith being able to captain should Tim Paine suffer an injury or something similar, with the proposal being approved by the board,” said, citing the Herald Sun.

“However, Smith might be named as vice-captain to back Cummins, who would be the first fast bowler to captain Australia since Ray Lindwall did it for a single Test in 1956.”

The communications were sent in 2017, months before Paine was reinstated to the Test team following a seven-year sabbatical, and he was cleared at the time by a joint Cricket Australia-Cricket Tasmania probe.

The news came just weeks before the start of the five-match Ashes series against England. The first Test begins on December 8 in Brisbane. Trevor Hohns, Australia’s previous head of selectors, predicted Smith would be a strong contender to succeed Paine in November.