Cricket Australia had to answer a number of questions before choosing a replacement for Team Paine
The role of the Australian captain is a highly debated one. It’s happening again now, following the former captain Steven SmithResponses to questions. “If the opportunity arises again, I will be interested,” Smith said.
The opportunity to captain Australia should only arise when the incumbent, Paine’s team, Was helpless or decided that he was fed up with a very demanding job. In Paine’s case, he took over under mitigating circumstances, when Smith canceled his duties by leaving a blatant cheating case under his watch. Since then, Paine has done an admirable job of restoring the reputation of Australian cricket.
There are a number of questions Cricket Australia must answer before deciding who will permanently inherit the captain from Paine. The first one may not be answered, because it can be burdensome. Why Smith and David Warner receive the same punishment regarding their captain’s future?
Smith and Warner are guilty of the same crime – cheating. If anything, Smith’s crimes were bigger: when he watched the plot set in the dressing room, he was cynical said, “I don’t want to know.”
It’s the captain’s job to know what the team is up to at all times, and he should have stopped the worst one, otherwise. that worst, in-game crime.
So why do they receive different punishments? Was Warner punished more severely because he was a spokesman for leading players during the MoU contract scuffle? It is always dangerous to assume, but it is a reasonable conclusion.
The next question: will the players accept Smith as their leader in light of his serious misjudgment the last time he led?
The wrong answer is, “He served his sentence so that the slate is now clean.” It may pass in court, but it’s not like that in the cricket dressing room. Respect is the cricket captain’s greatest ally and without it, he failed.
The correct question is, will the players unconditionally accept Smith as their captain? I would be surprised if the answer is yes.
The last question is simple. Who are the best candidates to lead Australia into the future?
The dilemma facing CA is the lack of clear candidates to take over when Paine decides to retire. The current system for measuring captain candidates is flawed and does not provide sufficient opportunities to test leadership skills in less dramatic settings.
Chappell: ‘Don’t see Smith captain Australia again’ (2018)
The potential candidate – apart from Smith – is a fast bowler Pat Cummins, batsmen Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne, and in an emergency, the goalkeeper Alex Carey. Of these players, Cummins has the best qualification as he has been vice-captain for some time. All things being equal, if the vice-captain doesn’t inherit the role then why make an appointment?
Cummins’ main attribute is that he is guaranteed a place and he is also the most inspiring player beside him. The only thing against him was his lack of captain’s experience and his role as a fast bowling player. Being a bowler captain is a very demanding job, but it shouldn’t automatically deter Cummins from the role. There are bowling players who have become very successful captains, it’s just that they are few and far between.
Head is the most experienced first class captain but he is struggling to establish himself as a Test player. Australia has no history of choosing a captain who doesn’t deserve a place as a player and that tradition must be upheld. Labuschagne is clearly good enough to keep his place but he has little leadership experience. Also he needs to put a damper on his unique character if he’s given the top job. Carey’s obvious problem is that it is difficult to imagine the selectors choosing him as Paine’s successor as guard and immediately installing him as captain.
These considerations can make Smith captain by default. This is not a very good excuse to put any player in charge – especially one whose credentials already involve the captain’s bleak past.
Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is a columnist