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They say a fast bowler shouldn’t be Test captain but here’s how it could work

But it has happened more frequently around the world, from Courtney Walsh to Wasim Akram, Shaun Pollock and Kapil Dev, and with vice-captain Cummins favoured to replace Paine sooner or later the question is how it would work for Australia.

“It works because you use your ‘keeper and your slips to keep an eye on things when you’re bowling a spell or they’re commissioned to come up with ideas,” said former Test paceman Geoff Lawson, who led NSW with distinction.

“In Shield cricket I’d have Taylor and [Steve] Waugh playing and at the end of an over they’d be running up from slip and I’d say ‘what’s in look like from down there?’

“They’d say ‘no problem’ or they’d say ‘maybe our midwicket should be straighter’ or ‘maybe we should bowl a different line’ … they’d come up with their cricket ideas.

“Those suggestions are not to be taken as orders but you get feedback from your senior players behind the stumps. They’re your advisors.”

For Taylor and Waugh, read in the current team Steve Smith and David Warner, the former captain and vice-captain with 156 Tests between them.

That committee approach is something Australian selectors and the board will have to consider adopting before long, even if Paine plays on through next summer’s Ashes series.

At 31, Steve Smith has many more years left in him at Test level.

At 31, Steve Smith has many more years left in him at Test level.Credit:Getty

There is significant reluctance in high enough places about Smith, the other leading candidate to succeed Paine, returning to the post to indicate he is unlikely to be in charge again, although he enjoys great support from within the team.

The world’s best Test batsman lost another captaincy role on Thursday, with Indian Premier League franchise Rajasthan Royal releasing him from his $2.5 million contract ahead of the tournament’s next auction.

ESPNCricinfo reported that a lack of impact as captain at Rajasthan contributed to the decision, although in a statement team owner Manoj Badale described Smith’s contribution as “immense”.

While the powers that be need much convincing about Smith, Cummins’ status as a poster boy of Australian cricket, a cleanskin and an intelligent university educated young man enhances his suitability. So does his shaking off in recent times of injury troubles, which plagued his early career.

Lawson argues the main reason fast bowlers haven’t captained Australia more often is because of the belief they get injured more than batsmen, therefore hurting the continuity of the leadership.

Cummins, though, has now strung 20 Tests together dating back to December 2018 including the five-match Ashes and the two four-Test campaigns against India.

The danger with taking on the additional responsibility is blunting his primary role as the key man of the Australian attack, one he performed so well against India he was player of the series in a losing side.

Cummins’ former NSW skipper and fellow seamer Stuart Clark says for that reason that he should not be made captain.


“It’s not that he can’t do it and not that he wouldn’t do a good job. I just think he’s got so much going on and he’s such an important part of our bowling attack it’s not the best thing for the team,” Clark said.

‘Physically he will be exhausted by the end of the day. I think you saw in Brisbane how much he put in.

“What also tends to happen is you feel as if you have to bowl everyone else before you bowl yourself. It’s not that you don’t want to bowl, it’s just you’ve got so much going on.”

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