Pat Cummins & Steve Smith: Australia’s New Test Leaders

Image Credit: Cricket Australia

Australia named Pat Cummins as their Test captain and Steve Smith as deputy on Friday after a sexting scandal led Tim Paine to quit the post last week, just ahead of the Ashes.On a dramatic day for Australian cricket, the Cummins appointment came hours after it was announced that former captain Paine will take a break from the sport, ruling him out of the home Ashes series against old rivals England. Cummins becomes the 47th captain of the Australian men’s Test team while Smith returns to a key leadership role, having been forced to stand down as skipper for his part in the 2018 “Sandpaper-gate” ball-tampering scandal.

Cummins, 28, is the first fast bowler to lead Australia since 1956. After Paine’s downfall for sending lewd text messages, Cummins knows that there will be intense scrutiny of his behaviour on and off the field, especially with the Ashes starting on December 8 in Brisbane. “When it comes to moral character, I am my own harshest judge,” said Cummins, who takes on one of the highest-profile roles in Australia.

“I am not perfect and there will be things that pop up, but as long as I can sleep at night, I am really comfortable with the rest of that. “Cummins is one of the world’s premier bowlers. His 34 Tests have yielded 164 wickets at 21.59, to go with 111 ODI scalps and 42 in T20s. But he has little experience as a leader, despite being elevated to vice-captain in 2019.Cummins, who described himself as “excited rather than nervous”, said that he will be drawing heavily on the experience of controversial batter Smith, 32.

Smith will have “a bit more of an elevated vice-captain role”, Cummins told reporters.Smith acknowledged that “there will be some negativity” surrounding his return to the leadership fold, but added: “I am a more rounded individual (than back in 2018) and in turn that’s turned me into a better leader”. Earlier Friday, Cricket Tasmania said that the 36-year-old Paine would immediately leave all forms of the game for the “foreseeable future”.

“Pat is an outstanding player and leader. He has earned enormous respect from his teammates and from all corners of the game for his attitude and achievements, both on and off the field,” Cricket Australia (CA) chief Nick Hockley said.

“We are extremely fortunate to have an experienced group of senior players who themselves are superb leaders. I have no doubt that Pat and Steve will be well supported in their respective leadership roles.”

Smith said, “I am pleased to return to the leadership of the team and look forward to helping and assisting Pat in any way I can. Pat and I have played together for a long time, so we know our respective styles well.

“We are also great friends, as is the whole group. As a team, we want to play good, positive cricket and also really enjoy each other’s company. They are exciting times ahead as we focus on the Ashes and beyond,” added Smith.

Cummins’ first assignment as Test captain will be leading the side in the Ashes, starting December 8.

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