Sydney, April 7: Shamed former Australia captain Steven Smith has backed fellow ball-tamperer Cameron Bancroft as an astute choice to skipper English county side Durham after his appointment raised eyebrows.
Smith, Bancroft and David Warner were all banned over the scandal involving sandpaper to alter the ball in South Africa last year, but are now back playing. While Warner was also barred from ever holding a leadership role again and Smith prevented from doing so for 12 months after his one-year suspension expired, Bancroft was free to assume a captaincy.
Durham appointed him last month, insisting he was "the best available option" despite criticism from some quarters, including former English bowler Darren Gough who slammed it as "disgraceful". But Smith said Bancroft had shown "great character" in the way he handled his ban and return to cricket.
"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 added.
"He's found a bit of form with the bat and will be able to use his experience in a positive way."
Bancroft's selection was controversial not just due to the cheating scandal but also because he is missing Durham's Championship opener to attend Western Australia's end-of-season awards dinner and could also be selected for Australia's Ashes series in England. Durham chief executive Tim Bostock has defended his appointment.
"I think he'll be a breath of fresh air, he'll bring a different perspective to leadership," he said last month.
Bancroft is one of around 10 Australian players set to appear for English county sides this season, including Joe Burns, Shaun Marsh and Glenn Maxwell.