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Smith has paid heavy price for Sandpapergate: Former Australian bowler Jason Gillespie


BENGALURU: Australian players have not worn the whites of the national team for quite some time with the home series against India in January being the last instance.

The situation cannot be considered ideal, especially when they are set for a big summer with the Ashes, starting with the first Test at the Gabba from December 8. Comparatively, England are in a much better position after having played eight Tests during the same period.

The reasons could be many, including a hectic international schedule, which also included the Indian Premier League for the majority of the big Australian players, the T20 World Cup, and not to forget the pandemic too. Despite the lack of game time in red ball cricket, former Australian bowler Jason Gillespie believes that the Baggy Greens have it in them to come out on top. Even history wouldn't disagree with the kind of record England have against Australia with the former managing to win just two matches in the last ten Tests in the Ashes.

"England have played a lot of Test cricket, and county cricket. The Australians, since that series against India, have not played much first-class cricket, especially a couple of the bowlers have not had that opportunity. However, they are experienced campaigners. The scheduling has been such that it has not been possible for them to play much first-class. I still maintain Australia as favourites," said Gillespie in a virtual interaction.

However, the problem for Australia does not end there. Last month, Tim Paine was embroiled in a texting scandal, which sent shockwaves around the cricketing world. The skipper, as a result, announced his resignation as the captain of the national team too. It opened the doors for a new captain and pacer Pat Cummins was appointed in that key position, who will have a dual role of delivering with the ball as well as leading the team on the park with Steve Smith as his deputy.

Smith, who was also involved in the Sandpaper gate controversy, inclusion in the leadership role invited criticism from the likes of Shane Warner and Ian Chappel, but Gillespie does not have any problem with it.

"At the time of the Sandpaper gate, I did not think he (Smith) would be involved in a leadership role with Australia again. I was vocal about that, but over time I have probably changed my tune and I certainly think he can have the leadership role. A lot of water has gone under the bridge and he's paid a very heavy price in my opinion and probably, and a bit unfairly. Cummins, the captain, has made it clear that he believes Smith will be a massive asset in the leadership role. (Coach) Justin Langer also believes in that. If it is good enough for the Australian captain and the coach, I am comfortable seeing him in that role,” added Gillespie, who believes it is time for Mitchell Starc to bring his A game in the series.

The left-arm pacer has not been at his best with 11 wickets in his last four Tests, which is not a great return for a bowler like Starc.

"It is fair to say that Mitchell will have to bowl well in the series. There is no doubt that you are ultimately judged on your performances. He is a fine bowler. I am looking forward to bowling him well in the summer," said Gillespie.