Who will replace Clarke when he retires?

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With Michael Clarke in some doubt for the Boxing Day Test with a hamstring injury, it’s worth asking who will replace him as captain of the Test side when he retires?

Though Clarke probably won’t hang up the bat for five to six years, it is always good starting thinking about and planning for the future.

Previous Australian captains have included the big names and legends of Australian cricket like Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor and Allan Border – some of the greatest players ever to wear the Baggy Green.

Historically the captain of a cricket team has always been a batsman. The only gun bowler captains from recent times I can recall are Shaun Pollock and Andrew Flintoff.

The only current Test captain that isn’t a batsman is Darren Sammy from the West Indies. Two other Test captains are wicketkeepers MS Dhoni, from cricket-mad India, and Mushfiqur Rahim, from Bangladesh.

However, of Australia’s batsmen, no one is really putting their hand up at the moment.

Michael Hussey will be long retired by the time Clarke jumps or is pushed, and Shane Watson is the same age as Clarke. There is no chance either of them will become full time captain of the Australian cricket team.

That leaves the main contenders to be the next Australian captain as David Warner, Phil Hughes, Usman Khawaja and Matthew Wade, unless someone else can burst onto the Test arena and make an impact.

I did not include Ed Cowan because, like Watson, Cowan is around the same age as Michael Clarke and I’m not so sure how long Cowan will last in the Test side at the moment. He is doing a decent job opening the batting but has been a little inconsistent.

Even though Khawaja is not in the Test side I still included him because he will surely be in the Test side by the time Clarke retires – most likely as Hussey’s successor.

Not one of Warner, Hughes, Khawaja or Wade have had real captaincy experience, although I recall David Warner captaining the Sydney Thunder against the Melbourne Stars last year where he made a brilliant century and got the Thunder over the line.

Warner was tipped to become T20 captain last year but Cricket Australia pulled off a surprising move and instead picked George Bailey, who is a very good player but not the greatest at T20.

Cricket Australia said they had picked him due to his high quality leadership skills, which created some controversy and a lot of people saying Cricket Australia made the wrong call.

In the T20 World Cup this year it looked like picking Bailey as captain was the wrong call, as they had to leave T20 gun David Hussey out of the starting XI.

Recently Usman Khawaja captained the Chairman’s XI in a three day tour match against Sri Lanka. The match ended in a draw, with the Chairman’s XI on top and Khawaja making 56.

For the Boxing Day Test, if Clarke does not pull up fit, the captaincy would more than likely go to Shane Watson, although David Warner and Michael Hussey would also have a good chance of being captain as well.

With my imaginary crystal ball, in six years’ time I see David Warner being the captain of the Test and One Day International sides.

So Roarers, if Clarke does not pull up fit for Boxing Day who should captain? And when Michael Clarke retires who should take the reins?

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