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With a new coach in Justin Langer, and Tim Paine taking the reins as captain, the culture within the Australian setup is set for a dramatic shakeup.
As much was evident when Paine led the team out to shake hands with the Proteas before the match in the last Test against South Africa. However, he is viewed as a short-term replacement.
It’s critical now that the experienced wicketkeeper instils the values he wants to see in the team into the young guns and, in particular, the two men viewed as future leaders: Pat Cummins and Mitch Marsh.
Marsh, in particular, was earmarked for captaincy even before his debut, back in 2014. Cricket Australia no doubt realise this and have given the captaincy of Australia A to Marsh, which could see him fast-tracked into the Australian vice-captaincy and skipper of his state.
As for Cummins, he has been one of Australia’s leading players since returning to the Test team a year ago, in India.
Indispensable across all formats, he has impressed with his pace, stamina and resilience, as well as his ability to take wickets with the old ball and making precious runs down the order. His defence with the willow is even better than Mitch Starc, who is considered an all-rounder, and Cummins’ batting could be an essential asset on the subcontinent.
Cummins’ stocks as a potential vice-captain also rose when he was named alongside Paine as a panellist to help create a new charter for player behaviour.
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But both men have only been permanent fixtures in the team for a year now.
Cummins has battled injuries and Marsh as a Test batsman is only now starting to prosper, after twin centuries in the Ashes and a 96 against South Africa. Hence it’s vital both players are better managed so as to maintain their fitness and performance.
If they are viewed as future leaders, it’s essential they stay around the team and get to know the values to be instilled, as they shape as role models for upcoming cricketers.
Both are fantastic cricketers, but they are yet to reach the peak of the playing career, so it’s better to keep Mitch Marsh and Pat Cummins with lighter workloads until they are entrusted with leadership responsibilities.