Sydney: Australian all-rounder Steve Smith is reportedly gaining momentum to be fast-tracked to be his side`s Test captain against India, as selectors consider the reality that skipper Michael Clarke`s body can no longer be relied upon to play regular international cricket.
Clarke is at long odds to line-up for the first Test in Brisbane on December 4 and might be forced to sacrifice the entire series, with coach Darren Lehmann confirming the skipper would be making February`s World Cup his priority this summer.
Vice-captain Brad Haddin is expected to be fit for the first Test and in that case would take the reins, but the wicketkeeper is himself racing the clock to return from a shoulder injury and his availability remains under a cloud, News.com.au reported.
Should both Clarke and Haddin be sidelined, next-big-thing 25-year-old Smith is poised to be called in for filling a leadership vacuum and be named Australia`s youngest captain since Kim Hughes.
Former Test captain Mark Taylor has endorsed Smith for the job, while fellow greats Greg Chappell and Mike Hussey believe that the decision should come down to either the young New South Welshman or the experienced Shane Watson.
In-form Smith has his Test average up to 40.39 with four centuries, and is regarded as the man most likely to succeed Clarke, but the question remains whether it`s too soon for Smith to be thrust into the most pressurised job in Australian sport.
Lehmann admits Australia now begin to prepare for life without Clarke, who has damaged the same left hamstring three times in 12 weeks.
Lehmann said that it`s never easy when one is losing one of their best players, but that`s part and parcel of the sport these days. He added that players have got to be adaptable, coaches certainly have to be adaptable and selectors have to be.