Australian captain Steve Smith reacts after failing to stop a South African boundary on day one of the second Test in Hobart.
Australian captain Steve Smith reacts after failing to stop a South African boundary on day one of the second Test in Hobart. DAVE HUNT

CA chief executive goes into bat for embattled Aussies

CRICKET: Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland has rejected calls for heads to roll in the wake of one of the country's worst runs in Test cricket.

While play on the second day of the second Test against South Africa in Hobart was abandoned, the CA chief executive went into bat for Australia's embattled captain Steve Smith and chairman of selectors Rod Marsh.

The weather gave the Aussies some respite after a disastrous day one at Blundstone Arena when capitulating with the bat for the second time in the series to be all out for 85.

It was Australia's third-lowest Test innings score this century and its second-lowest on home soil in the past 50 years.

It also left Smith on the brink of joining Michael Clarke and Kim Hughes as the only Australian skippers to have led their side to five successive defeats.

"We certainly are very conscious of the fact that Steve has come into the role much younger than any of his four or five predecessors,” Sutherland told ABC radio.

"I had a look the other day - you go back to (Allan) Border, (Mark) Taylor, (Steve) Waugh, (Ricky) Ponting (and) (Michael) Clarke, between 29 and 34 I think they came into the captaincy of the Australian team. Steve was 26.

"All of them came into the team as world-class batsmen ... but I certainly don't think if you look back in history, certainly in my time, none of them made an easy, smooth transition into the job.

"It's a big step up and it's a real challenge, and even more so if you don't have the players around you who are performing as well as they might or could, and so that added challenge is there.

"But we have a very high regard for Steve Smith as a person as a leader and obviously as a cricketer, and we think that with his support, and as he builds a team around him and they perform, he's got a very bright future as a leader for a long time to come.”

Sutherland also backed Marsh to see out his time as the selection chief, which is due to end following Australia's tour of India next February and March.

"The selection panel clearly have got their job to do and it's challenging times,” he said.

"It's difficult when players and the team aren't performing as well and there are 22 million selectors out there who have different views.

"We're all impatient for success ... it needs to be steady hands on the wheel but that's not to say there isn't that urgency about wanting to fight back.”

As well as individuals, Australia's preparation has come under fire after only one round of Sheffield Shield cricket was played before the start of the Test series.

"I don't think the preparation is anything Australian cricket can complain about,” he said. "The South Africans have had the same schedule in terms of preparation as we've had.

"We both played each other in one-day matches in October.”

Depending on the weather, the Proteas will resume tomorrow at 5-171.


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