Adam Gilchrist believes Pat Cummins is the ‘frontrunner’ to replace Tim Paine as Australia Test captain but would not be surprised if Steve Smith gets the job.
Australia are set to appoint a new red-ball skipper after Paine stepped down over a historical investigation into sexually explicit texts to a female colleague.
Paine’s announcement came less than three weeks before the start of the Ashes series against England and Cricket Australia are considering removing the 36-year-old from their squad altogether.
‘I think Pat Cummins is the frontrunner there,’ said Gilchrist, who played 96 Tests for Australia and served as vice-captain to Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting.
‘I’ve got no problems with him having first opportunity. They should have him if he’s keen to do it and he must be reasonably happy to take the role, given he’s vice-captain.
‘I see no reason to pigeonhole Pat as a fast bowler who can’t do it. I just think Pat has developed into a more integral part of that team and grown in his knowledge of the game and experiences he’s had.
‘I think it’s a case of whilst you’re away, someone else has come in over the top of you, to an extent.
‘Steve Smith could very well take the captaincy again, but Pat Cummins will be the guy they lean to now.’
Smith was Australia captain before Paine but lost his job in the aftermath of the ball-tampering scandal in 2018.
While the 32-year-old has been linked with the vacant position, former Australia wicketkeeper Ian Healy believes reinstating Smith for the Ashes would be a mistake.
‘We’re going to add to the circus by Steve Smith being appointed after that [the Tim Paine episode],’ Healy told Sportsday.
‘I’ve got no problems with Steve Smith captaining Australia again; he paid a heavy price for just being a lazy captain, that’s about all he was guilty of.
‘Too many people around there think he was actually in there scratching that ball in South Africa, but if they’ve forgotten what happened he just wasn’t aware enough as captain to pull the reigns in and stop what was going to happen.
‘That was his crime, and he got a year ban for it. So, I’ve got no problems, but I don’t think he needs to come in as vice-captain or straight after Paine’s indiscretion.’
Australia begin their Ashes defence on December 8 at the Gabba in Brisbane.
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