States under pressure to help develop future leaders
PRESSURE is mounting on states to follow the broad hints of national selectors and make captains out of the likes of Pat Cummins and Marnus Labuschagne.
Test skipper Tim Paine and white ball counterpart Aaron Finch are locked in for the foreseeable future, but Australia is now entering a crucial phase for finding leaders who can ultimately succeed them.
Former Australian captain Michael Clarke made waves on Monday when he called on Finch to stand down from the ODI and T20 and declared fast bowling prodigy Cummins should lead his country in all three formats.
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Cummins said earlier this summer that he wouldn't say no to the captaincy if it ever came his way, however, he has also had no experience leading cricket teams since he was a young boy.
Australian selectors would like the states to think boldly about their captains and help map out the future for national leadership positions.
Trevor Hohns has said previously he'd like to see Alex Carey captain South Australia.
The states don't generally like to be told what to do and NSW would be highly unlikely to replace Peter Nevill with Cummins for the sake of one or two matches the fast bowler can play in a Sheffield Shield season.
But should it be done for the greater good?
Even without captaincy experience, and taking into consideration his extra workloads as a bowler, Clarke is adamant Cummins is the man for the job.
"I actually think for Australian cricket right now, for the position they're in, I actually think they need one captain across all three formats," said Clarke on the Big Sports Breakfast.
"No disrespect to Aaron Finch, he's done a wonderful job, but at the end of this 2020 World Cup in November this year, I wthink it could be the right time for him to stand down and in my opinion, Pat Cummins take over the captaincy across all three formats."
Although the heat has gone out of the Steve Smith return to captaincy debate after coach Justin Langer declared Paine would skipper the side through until at least the Test Championship Final in 2021, intrigue still surrounds his future in the Australian set-up.
Smith's 24 month leadership ban stemming from the ball-tampering saga expires at the end of this month.
Clarke says he doesn't feel Smith is the best man for the Australian captaincy, but is interested as to whether Cricket Australia want him back, and whether Smith would want that responsibility again.
For his part, Smith is still nonplussed, despite his recent promotion to captain in the England Hundred competition.
"Not really. I'm pretty chilled to be honest. I'm just enjoying playing and being amongst the boys. It's been really good," said Smith ahead of the second ODI against South Africa in Bloemfentein on Wednesday.
"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 help do my job that way. I'm pretty chilled."
Labuschagne would not appear to be in contention to captain Australia when the next changeover takes place, however his outstanding batting numbers and certainty in the team makes him an interesting proposition.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan talked up Labuschagne's captaincy credentials during the summer.