Shane Warne has expressed his belief that Australia should pick their best team first and then choose a captain from it, and added that they 'desperately' needed Steve Smith and David Warner back.
Tim Paine took over the captaincy duties in Tests and one-day internationals after Smith and Warner were were given year-long bans for their involvement in the ball-tampering incident in Cape Town in March.
However, Australia have lost all six games – five ODIs against England and one Test against South Africa – under Paine's captaincy, and the wicketkeeper-batsman's own form hasn't been encouraging either.
"The Australian way is always to pick your best team," Warne told Fox Sports News. "There’s a lot of talk about 'should Tim Paine be in the side'. He’s the captain at the moment. We as Australians should always pick our best team and then pick our captain and vice-captain from that. I don’t think we should just make a captain and then fit a side around him."
Acknowledging the fact that the posts of captain and vice-captain were still up for grabs, Warne said, "I want to see us pick the best side possible. If Tim Paine’s in the best side and he’s the best guy to be captain, then make him captain."
If not Paine then who, though? Warne thinks off-spinner Nathan Lyon is strong candidate. "He’s a senior player," said Warne. "He’s an experienced player in the side, (and) spinners generally think about the game pretty well. Nathan Lyon thinks about the game pretty well."
In the absence of Smith and Warner, Australia's batting line-up has also looked fragile. "I don’t think any of the batsmen have really consolidated themselves … all of their spots are up for grabs, the all-rounder’s spot is up for grabs."
As for the ousted duo, the 145-Test veteran said Australia needed them back as soon as possible, but wasn't sure if they would captain Australia again – in fact, Warner has been banned for life from occupying any leadership role in the team.
"I still think they’ll be back, we need them, we’re desperate for them," said Warne. "Have a look at the Australian side at the moment, we’re lacking in batting so we desperately need them.
"We sort of want to rush them back but they’ll do their time, they’ll pay their penance, their 12 months, and then they’ll be back and be better than ever."