Can Smith be World Cup’s one-armed man?
Update: Chris Lynn might have bowed out of contention but Steve Smith has replaced him as the latest one-armed warrior causing Australia a selection dilemma for the World Cup.
Smith is finally out of his elbow brace and is back running six weeks after surgery following a serious setback with his elbow tendon that's been likened to the Tommy John injury that routinely debilitates Major League Baseball pitchers.
It's expected Smith will return to batting in the nets in the coming days and is aiming to be fit for the start of the IPL in a month's time.
There can be no guarantees at this stage about Smith and the World Cup, but even if he does win the race, there are grave fears around cricket circles that he won't be able to throw.
Smith is one of the most dynamic in-circle fielders Australia has produced in the past decade and the likelihood he would have to be either wrapped in cotton wool at slip or hidden in the field is an alarming one for Australia when it's the one-percenters that can often decide a World Cup.
Australia was prepared to carry powerhouse hitter Lynn when he was a passenger in the field with his shoulder, and of course they would make the same allowance for Smith, provided his batting mechanics are back in-sync by the time preparations get into full swing in May.
But the challenge proved too much for Lynn who has pulled out of the World Cup running, and the assignment ahead of Smith will be one of his greatest ever tests as one of cricket's premier batsmen.
Smith is due to report for training camp for his IPL franchise the Rajasthan Royals within the next fortnight and - at this stage yet to bat in the nets - the 29-year-old is racing the clock to be fit for his side's opening match in four weeks' time.
There are some questioning the wisdom of Smith taking up his $2.4 million IPL contract, given the perceived long-term benefits that could come with not rushing back, and trying to give his elbow as much time as possible to fully heal.
Even if he has barely been paid during his 12-month ban over the ball-tampering scandal.
But the counterargument to that is that Smith may feel he desperately needs the match practice offered by the high-level IPL, if he's to be a force at the World Cup.
There is no other proper cricket for him to play otherwise.
It's understood Cricket Australia has already granted the No-Objection Certificate (NOC) that Smith and David Warner need to compete in the IPL.
However, CA medical staff will work closely with Smith before his departure to India and will give advice based on the latest status of an injury and recovery process that remains largely a mystery.
Warner is also recovering from elbow surgery, but is likely to be able to regain full fitness before or during the IPL.
However, Smith's lack of throwing capacity is a genuine concern, particularly when fellow World Cup batting hopeful Ashton Turner is also severely restricted in the field with his own shoulder issue.
The signature elbow injury for a baseball pitcher is a torn ligament which brings about the Tommy John surgery.
A torn elbow tendon rather than the ligament is regarded as relatively good news for pitchers, but it's still a long recovery and rehabilitation of four to six months.
During the 2017 MLB season pitcher Clay Buchholz, then with the Philadelphia Phillies, tore his elbow tendon in April and missed the rest of the season, and then towards of 2018 he experienced a recurrence of the pain with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Clearly Smith doesn't need to be able to throw with the power and precision of a Major League pitcher, but it could be a while until he is back to full capacity.