Mark Taylor has backed Steve Smith to lead Australia again following his remarkable run of form in the Ashes series.
Smith was handed a 12-month ban by Cricket Australia for his role in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year.
He faces a further year-long suspension from any leadership post given the fact the disgraceful incident occurred under his captaincy.
Tim Paine emerged as the unlikely candidate for captaincy in Smith's absence but his future as leader of the side is clouded in ambiguity despite registering an Ashes-retaining win in Manchester.
Former Australia cricketer Taylor, who was part of the board that decided Smith's ball-tampering penalty and the sanctions imposed on accomplices David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, said the world number one Test batsman was sure to become the skipper again.
"I believe Smith will captain Australia again," he said in a column for the Sydney Morning Herald.
"I was on the Cricket Australia board that determined the penalties for Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft over the events of Cape Town and have no doubt he will be a better leader next time around because of the very harsh lessons he learnt."
Paine received backlash from cricket pundits for his poor tactics in the third Test at Headingley, which resulted in a dramatic one-wicket victory for England.
However, he bounced back admirably at Old Trafford to become the first Australian captain since Steve Waugh to retain the Ashes.
But Smith would be waiting in the wings as support mounts for him to take over as captain soon.
"To me it's not a matter of whether he (Smith) becomes captain again on April 1. It doesn't have to happen that quickly," Taylor said.
"But I'd like to think when Paine is finished as Test captain -- whether that's in six months' time or two or three years -- he would be a candidate to lead the side again."
Ex-captain Ian Chappell believed there was no other option available than to make Smith in charge of the side again.
"I think the problem for Australia will be there's no one else I can see to captain that side," he said recently.
Ricky Ponting stated he "wouldn't have any problem with it at all" if Smith assumed the important role.
"If the hierarchy at Cricket Australia have an issue with him ever being captain again, they would have given him a life ban, wouldn't they?" Ponting said last month.