Steve Smith’s reluctance to publicly endorse teammate Pat Cummins as a captain suggests the batsman is eyeing another stint as Australian skipper, according to some pundits.
Last week Cummins was unveiled as the NSW captain for the 2021 Marsh Cup, which was interpreted as a clue he was being primed for higher honours when Tim Paine calls it quits.
Cummins made his captaincy debut against Victoria at North Sydney Oval on Monday, with the Blues securing a comfortable 59-run victory.
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Although many believe pace bowlers shouldn’t be given captaincy duties due to their heavy workload in the field, the 27-year-old showed no signs of fatigue on Monday.
After smacking a career-best 49 with the bat, Cummins snared three wickets in Victoria’s innings to complete a stellar all-round performance.
Pat Cummins made his captaincy debut on Monday.Source: Getty Images
Speaking before the domestic one-dayer, Smith was asked on radio if there was any reason Cummins can’t captain Australia.
“Good question. I think being a fast bowler it would be tough. But that’s not for me to really answer,” he told SEN.
When asked if he was impressed with Cummins’ captaincy after NSW’s win over Victoria, Smith didn’t exactly jump on the opportunity to applaud his teammate.
“He was good; pretty easy day I think today,” Smith said.
“I don’t think there was too much to do. Not a tough day, but did good on his first day.”
The panellists on ABC’s Offsiders program were taken aback by Smith’s lukewarm comments, agreeing the remarks indicated Smith was eager to reclaim the Australian captaincy.
“Hardly an endorsement,”host Kelli Underwood said on Sunday morning. “That’s a man who wants his captaincy back. I don’t think he’s going to get it.”
Smith has not captained Australia since the infamous ball-tampering saga in 2018, when he received a one-year suspension from the sport.
Steve Smith smacked a century against Victoria on Monday.Source: Getty Images
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ABC commentator Alister Nicholson elaborated: “Cricketers are so good at playing a straight bat. They know how to deliver the right line to a difficult question typically. For him to deviate so far away from that I think is quite telling.
“I wish Steve Smith didn’t want the captaincy back. I think he’s so much a better player without it and without that burden on his shoulders.
“But still, he’s a professional athlete and he’s driven by the want to be the absolute best he can be and he wants to right the wrong of before and be the captain again. But I don’t think he will be.
“And Pat Cummins is the complete package. I think he’d do a great job.”
English cricket commentator Alison Mitchell explained why fast bowlers are typically not considered for leadership positions in cricket.
“You watch Pat Cummins in a Test match, or any fast bowler, and they go down to fine leg and third man and they are exhausted,” Mitchell said.
“To then be at mid on, mid off, having to think of bowling changes, that thing about when to bring yourself on, it can sometimes make bowlers reticent to bowl themselves at the right moment.
“I think he’d be a fantastic leader of men, but I do think that it’s very difficult for a fast bowler to give of their best in a Test team and deal with everything else that comes with captaincy on field as well.”