Australian fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood. Picture: Peter Wallis
Australian fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood. Picture: Peter Wallis

Time for Australia to ignore 143 years of tradition

In 143 years of Test cricket, Australia has never been bold enough to appoint a specialist fast bowler a regular Test captain ... but nothing is off the table.

Not in the post-ball tampering era where Australia is still finding its soul and its new leaders.

Michael Clarke has been saying for two years Pat Cummins could be a fine Test captain, and over the next couple of seasons his name will at least be discussed because it is anchored in a small field of contenders which change by the series.

Current skipper Tim Paine has done an outstanding job settling the stormy waters of Australian cricket and deserves to hold the position until the term of his natural captaincy life expires.

Stream live coverage of the Prime Ministers XI v Sri Lanka International T20 match LIVE or On-Demand with KAYO SPORTS. Get your 14-day free trial>

Australian fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood. Picture: Peter Wallis
Australian fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood. Picture: Peter Wallis

But he is 34, so Australia has a duty to start planning for life beyond him.

With the growing feeling that former skipper Steve Smith should just be left to bat, Cummins, current Test vice-captain, is one of several options in a field lacking depth and experience.

Cummins was suitably self-effacing when quizzed on the matter on Fox Sports' Back Page Live.

"I'm not too sure to be honest,'' Cummins said when asked whether he could do the job, or even wanted it in the first place.

 

 

"I am not sure how I would go ... whether I would be any good. I feel that especially over here in Australia it always seems to be 45 degrees and I am bowling 25 overs. I don't really have much capacity to think of anything else.

"I don't really know but the good thing is Painey got a hundred during the week and he is doing a great job.''

Australia has appointed 46 Test captains, mostly batsmen, some all-rounders, a handful of keepers but Ray Lindwall was the only specialist quick to hold the post, and that was on a one-off basis against India in the 1950s when regular captain Ian Johnson was injured.

The traditional feeling, apart from the fact that the fast men have occasionally been the maverick types, is they have enough on their plate being the engine room in the field rather than have to worry about taking the steering wheel as well.

There have been notable exceptions from other nations such as Pakistan's World Cup-winning skipper Imran Khan, a wonderful seam and swing bowler, but Australia generally has gone with a batsman.

Cummins would have to overcome what you could call the Ricky Ponting syndrome - being so talented that he played a few age groups ahead of his time, which meant he was generally not required to lead the team.

"I feel that when I was 14 or 15 it was the last time I had captained the side, and since then I feel like I have been the youngest guy in the side,'' he said.