Michael Clarke wants Pat Cummins to captain Australia in all three formats once Tim Paine retires, saying he doesn’t believe Steve Smith should lead the national cricket side again while also suggesting limited overs skipper Aaron Finch should stand down later this year.
Ex-Aussie captain Clarke is adamant fast bowler Cummins, 26, is the man to fill the leadership void that will be left when Paine calls it quits and wants Smith to focus on being Australia’s best player without the added burden of having the C next to his name.
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David Warner was banned from ever holding a leadership position in Aussie cricket again while Smith was forbidden from captaining until one year after their 12-month ban for the ball tampering scandal ended. That point will come at the end of March but as far as Clarke’s concerned, it shouldn’t matter.
He suggested 35-year-old Paine, who was handed the captaincy reins after the cheating controversy in 2018, may look to retire after the home Test series against India next summer and when that happens, it will be time for change.
Finch captains the ODI and T20 sides but Clarke has called for the batsman — who guided the Aussies to the 50-over World Cup semi-finals last year — to relinquish the captaincy after this year’s T20 World Cup on home soil so Cummins can take over.
“In sport in this country we have a sense of the best player needs to be the captain. I don’t agree with that, I think the best captain needs to be the captain,” Clarke said during his first show co-hosting Sky Sports’ Big Sports Breakfast.
“In saying that, I think Steve Smith is Australia’s best batsman but I don’t necessarily think he’s the right man to captain Australia.
“For Australian cricket right now, the position they’re in, I think they need one captain across all three formats. So again, no disrespect to Aaron Finch, he’s done a wonderful job, but at the end of this T20 World Cup in November this year, I think it could be the right time for him to stand down as well and in my opinion, Pat Cummins (should) take over the captaincy across all three formats.
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Cummins is the golden boy of Australian cricket.Source:Getty Images
“Pat has showed that he’s fit, he’s healthy, he can play all three formats. His body has now matured into a position where he’ll be on the field as much as any batsman.
“I don’t think he shouldn’t get the opportunity because of that (injury fears). He reads the game really well — yes he’s an opening bowler but he can bat, he’s brilliant in the field, he sees the game how a captain needs to see the game.
“It might take him a bit of time but that’s where he’s got those senior players — Steve Smith, David Warner, Nathan Lyon — there’s other guys around him that can actually support him.”
Clarke said Smith can still be a leader even if he isn’t captain, and is keen to see whether Cricket Australia offers him the chance to become skipper again after the South African scandal.
“I’m actually going to be interested, number one, to see if Cricket Australia offer that opportunity back to Smithy when Tim Paine’s gone, and number two and most importantly, if Steve Smith would accept it,” Clarke said.
“I think there’s probably a great opportunity, if Steve is offered that chance, to actually decline it because of those reasons. Yes he’s our best player, but he can be that captain without that C beside his name.”
Smith’s future captaincy career is up in the air.Source:AP
While Smith is excited to be taking on leadership roles in global T20 competitions, a return to national honours remains a long way off his radar.
The 30-year-old took over as captain of the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League midway through last season and has assumed the role permanently for the upcoming season.
He will also lead the Welsh Fire in the inaugural season of The Hundred in the UK later in the year.
But after top-scoring for Australia in its ODI defeat to South Africa in Paarl on the weekend, Smith downplayed the prospect of one day returning to the national captaincy.
“I’m pretty chilled to be honest,” he said. “I’m just enjoying playing and being amongst the boys. It’s been really good.
“The guys are doing a terrific job, Finchy and Painey. I’ll support them any way I can and help the team have success and hopefully score some more runs and do my job that way.”
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