Sports, Cricket

Cummins the frontrunner to lead Australia


By AFP
Published : 20 Nov 2021 08:04 PM | Updated : 22 Nov 2021 10:20 AM

Pat Cummins emerged as the frontrunner Saturday to take over from disgraced former Australia Test skipper Tim Paine, with the likes of Mark Taylor, Dennis Lillie, and Steve Waugh all singing his praises.

The 28-year-old, who has served as vice-captain in both Test and white-ball formats since 2019, is widely seen as in a two-way race with Steve Smith to assume the reins after Paine's shock departure on Friday over a sexting scandal. The bombshell move came just weeks before the blockbuster Ashes series against arch-rivals England, with selectors expected to act quickly to anoint a successor.

Paine stepped down after a series of allegedly sexually graphic text message exchanges with a Cricket Tasmania employee in 2017 came to light, despite being cleared by cricket authorities of any offence at the time.

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Smith, who was stripped of the captain's armband and banned for a year after a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in 2018 which culminated with Paine taking over, has support to complete a remarkable career revival.

But Cummins appears to be the heir apparent, with Smith tipped to be his deputy. If appointed, Cummins will become the first specialist fast bowler to captain the side since Ray Lindwall did so for a single Test in 1956.

Former captain and Cricket Australia board director Mark Taylor said he expected the governing body would make a clean break with the past given the circumstances in which Paine quit.

“I think CA will probably want to go for someone fresh and clean. The timing will make it a more comfortable decision for CA to make Pat the captain. It will be hard to go back after another controversy to Steve,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald Saturday.

“I know Pat very well, he's a terrific fella,” he added. “I think it is harder for a quick bowler to be captain, but in terms of leadership he will be very good because he's a good, solid human being.”

Fast bowling great Lillie is also a big fan, having mentored Cummins in recent years.

“He’s an intelligent guy but more than that, he’s got real cricket smarts,”

he told cricket.com.au before Paine’s announcement.

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