In a remarkable display of leniency, Cricket Australia has not shut the door on a return to captaincy by Steve Smith.

CA is forming a committee to further delve into the disgraceful ball-tampering incident in the South African Test series, but CA chairman David Peever said that Smith would have an opportunity to ascend to Test captaincy again.

The foulstench of the incident has besmirched the reputation of a player whose name belonged alongside those of Don Bradman and Ricky Ponting.

It may have helped that Smith stood up and held himself accountable for the entire mess, rather than trying to claim ignorance of the shenanigans David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were engaging in during the lunch break of the third Test.

It would seem charitable of CA to simply let Smith play Test cricket again. The risk factor is also present, as five-day cricket at the international level has been giving way to short format versions in an era where even the ODI is slipping in popularity. Allowing Smith, let alone Warner or Bancroft back in presents a very real possibility of alienating remaining fans.

Peever did mention that a return by Smith, in any shape, would not be easy.

“Steve, nevertheless, has a long road back. Peever said to The Daily Telegraph. “We at Cricket Australia and Cricket NSW, in the case of Steve and David (Warner) and WACA, in the case of Cameron (Bancroft), and the ACA will be working to make sure we wrap the structures around these young men to make sure they can rebuild their careers and come back strongly.I hope they can win back the trust and respect of Australian cricket fans and the Australian public.“It’s a long journey, their lives have been turned upside down. We don’t want anything like this to ever occur again.”

Only time will tell if any of the three will ever again wear the baggy green, but the level of tolerance CA is showing via Peever’s remarks is one of the most remarkable developments to yet emerge from the entire saga.