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States can shape cricket captaincy debate

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4th April, 2020
16

Pat Cummins says “in a perfect world” leading Australia in Test cricket would not be the first taste of captaincy for the likes of he and Marnus Labuschagne.

Pat Cummins and Marnus Labuschagne have been earmarked as leading candidates to be Australia’s next Test skipper, but the duo will lack captaincy experience unless their states come to the party.

Former skipper Michael Clarke has been a loud advocate for Cummins to lead the national side, having started his campaign in 2018 even before the Cape Town cheating scandal erupted.

Tim Paine has since entrenched himself in the Test XI and played a key role in the improvement of Australia’s off-field reputation and on-field performances.

But the conversation about who should lead Australia whenever the 35-year-old retires is still ongoing, having flared up when Steve Smith’s two-year leadership ban expired last weekend.

Paine was diplomatic when asked last week who should be the next captain, noting there are “a number of guys we can choose from” before rattling off the names of Smith, Cummins, Labuschagne, Travis Head and Alex Carey.

Cummins was appointed one of Paine’s deputies last year, while Labuschagne has thoroughly impressed Paine and national coach Justin Langer during his remarkable rise in recent months.

Neither has captaincy experience at the domestic level, with Labuschagne playing under Usman Khawaja at Queensland. 

NSW, having won the most recent Sheffield Shield season under the leadership of Peter Nevill, are unlikely to install Cummins as skipper, not least because the gun paceman rarely plays Shield cricket because of his busy schedule and big workload.

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“In the perfect world, your first experience of being captain – say Australian captain – you’ve (already) had quite a bit of experience leading and you know exactly what it entails,” Cummins said.

“But things don’t always work out exactly as you planned.

“You don’t want to tread on anyone’s toes, especially someone like Nevvy, who has just won a Shield for NSW.

“In the last year or so, just being vice-captain … I’ve learnt a lot that way.”

Cricket Australia (CA), branded “dictatorial’ in a scathing independent review that followed the sandpaper-gate affair, has improved its relationship with the states and would be reluctant to tell Cricket NSW or Queensland Cricket what to do.

Leadership decisions are hardly a priority for the states at the moment; domestic contract discussions are on hold ahead of CA’s delayed announcement of national contracts amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cummins was delighted to hear Paine rates him as captaincy material, but added the topic remains a moot point while the keeper is still playing.

“It’s nice to hear, (I) don’t think it makes me want it more or less,” Cummins said.

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“I kind of feel it’s not quite right talking about captaincy now.”

Cummins is expected to top CA’s contract list for 2020-21 whenever it is announced, underlining his importance to Langer’s team. 

© AAP