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Pat Cummins confirmed as Australia’s new Test captain

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Steven Smith returns to a leadership position with the vice-captaincy

Pat Cummins has been named Australia’s new men’s Test captain on the day it appeared Tim Paine’s international career may have come to an end a week after he stood down following the emergence of explicit text messages.
Steven Smith has returned to his first official leadership role with the national side since the ball-tampering scandal by taking the vice-captaincy position. It puts him an injury away from captaining the Test side again.

Cummins, who was interviewed for the top job along with former captain Smith, was approved by the CA board on Thursday night after the recommendation of a five-person panel consisting of chair Richard Freudenstein, chief executive Nick Hockley, director Mel Jones and selectors George Bailey and Tony Dodemaide.

“I am honoured to accept this role ahead of what will be a massive Ashes summer. I hope I can provide the same leadership Tim [Paine] has given the group in the past few years,” Cummins said. “With Steve and I as captains, a number of very senior players in this squad and some great young talent coming through we are a strong and tightly knit group.

“This is an unexpected privilege which I am very grateful for and am very much looking forward to.”

Cummins has been earmarked as a potential future captain for a number of years but was overlooked for a vice-captaincy position in 2018 before being elevated to a shared role in 2019 then as the single understudy in 2020.

“Pat is an outstanding player and leader. He has earned enormous respect from his teammates and from all corners of the game for his attitude and achievements, both on and off the field,” Hockley said. “We are extremely fortunate to have an experienced group of senior players who themselves are superb leaders. I have no doubt that Pat and Steve will be well supported in their respective leadership roles.”

His only captaincy experience at the professional level is with the New South Wales one-day side last season when he captained them in four matches in what became a trophy-winning campaign although he missed the final due to the IPL.

When NSW gave him the job it was with a view to him being Australia captain at some point amid concerns that candidates for the position were not being given enough opportunity at state level.

It will be a step into the unknown for Australian cricket with the men’s team having not been captained by a fast bowler since Ray Lindwall did it on a one-off occasion in 1956.

Given the strains of fast bowling there is a strong chance Smith will take the helm at some point during their tenure

“I am pleased to return to the leadership of the team and look forward to helping and assisting Pat in any way I can,” Smith said. “Pat and I have played together for a long time, so we know our respective styles well.”

Initially the timeline for the transition from Paine to a new captain might have been earmarked for after the Ashes but the events of last week meant the process was put into fast forward although CA said it would be a rigorous process with significant background checks for candidates.

Being an integral part of all three formats there was already a huge burden on Cummins although his durability as a fast bowler has been outstanding since his comeback in 2017. He has only missed two of Australia’ last 35 Tests, albeit they have only played nine matches since the 2019 tour of England due to Covid-19 postponements.

Cummins is currently part of Australia’s T20 World Cup and Australia A contingent still in quarantine on the Gold Coast. When they emerge next week there will be a short and intense lead-in to the Ashes with Cummins quickly having to grasp the various demands of being Australia captain before he walks out to toss the coin with Joe Root at the Gabba on December 8.



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Eyes on David Warner, but Australia's biggest challenge will be when he's gone

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After being hit by injury last season questions have been asked about whether Warner can dominate Test cricket again



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Darren Gough set to be named as Yorkshire’s director of cricket

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Former Yorkshire fast bowler to be unveiled on Monday after answering call to help club

Darren Gough is set to be unveiled as Yorkshire’s new director of cricket, as the club embarks on a rebuilding process in the wake of last week’s sacking of the existing coaching and medical staff.

Gough, 51, is expected to announce the appointment on his talkSPORT radio show on Monday, as he prepares to put his media career on hold to help shore up the foundations of his former county, in the wake of Azeem Rafiq’s allegations of institutional racism and the extensive fall-out that has followed.

As one of the most popular players in Yorkshire’s history, Gough claimed 453 first-class wickets in 15 years with the club, during which time he also picked up 229 wickets in 58 Test appearances for England, before finishing his career at Essex, where he still lives.

He is seen by Lord Kamlesh Patel, the club’s new chairman, as the ideal man to help heal the deep divisions at Yorkshire, as he steps into the role vacated by Martyn Moxon on Friday – one of 16 members of the back-room staff axed in a dramatic statement of the club’s determination to put the racism scandal behind them.

That issue is unlikely to resolved without further revelations, however. The 16 players are expected to seek legal advice on Monday, after it transpired that several of their number had sent a joint letter to the Yorkshire Board in October, seen by ESPNcricinfo, outlining their deep unease at the club’s handling of the racism case, and its failure to rebut Rafiq’s extensive claims.

Gough has been involved in coaching on a consultancy basis since his retirement in 2008, including a stint with England’s Test squad in New Zealand in 2019-20, but his new role is expected to be focussed on strategy, planning, recruitment and development.



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Aus vs Eng, Men’s Ashes, 2021-22 – Alex Carey ready if Test debut comes

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A lean run in the Sheffield Shield has not dented the wicketkeeper’s confidence

Despite a relatively lean Sheffield Shield season Alex Carey feels he is well placed should he get the nod to be Australia’s wicketkeeper in the opening Ashes Test at the Gabba.
Thirty-year-old Carey, who plays for South Australia, is the frontrunner to fill Tim Paine’s position ahead of the highly-regarded Josh Inglis but insisted he has yet to be given the nudge from the selectors.

Inglis, along with fellow Western Australia team-mates Mitchell Marsh and Ashton Agar, flew back to Perth on Tuesday for a pre-planned few days back home and will rejoin the squad after a short break but it has been taken as an indication of the way the selectors will fall.

Carey has made just 153 runs in eight Sheffield Shield innings this season – with single-figure scores in his last five outings – but did crack a century in the Marsh Cup before heading to Brisbane. Due to his place in the T20 World Cup squad Inglis, who shot into contention after a superb 2020-21 domestic season, has only played one first-class match this summer.

“I’ve felt in a really good place,” Carey told RSN radio. “I feel like I’m hitting the ball well and although the runs didn’t come as I would have liked in the first part of the Sheffield Shield season I think consistently over the last couple of years I’ve been pretty solid.

“It wasn’t a case which end do I hold the bat, still felt like I knew what I was doing, and to get some runs in that one-day game is great. Nice to know what I was doing is still the right thing.

“I’ve done what I can so I’ll sit back and hope for the best.”

Carey is also encouraged by the philosophy of the current selection panel – headed by George Bailey – that they are not swayed by a small sample of recent results and look at a larger picture.

“Cricket’s a game where if you miss out in one game you are judged on that and you feel like everything is coming down on you but it takes one innings to turn that around and you are in great form again,” he said. “Justin [Langer] and George have played so many games and they know what it’s like and they’ve put a lot of trust and open communication with the players.”

Overall Carey averages 34.73 in first-class cricket with five centuries. He was due to be the reserve wicketkeeper on the postponed Test tour of South Africa earlier this year and last season took the gloves for Australia A.

Other selection calls Australia need to make ahead of the opening Test are between Mitchell Starc and Jhye Richardson – with Starc expected to retain his place – and which of Travis Head and Usman Khawaja bats at No. 5.

Australia’s intrasquad match which was due to start on Wednesday has been canceled due to the continued wet weather in Brisbane with players hoping to get some centre-wicket time if the rain clears over the next couple of days.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo



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