Fast bowler Pat Cummins was on Friday appointed as the 47th captain of the Australia Test team, Cricket Australia (CA) confirmed on Friday.
Cummins comes replacing Tim Paine, who stood down from the position last week following revelations that he had been investigated and cleared over sexually explicit text messages sent to a female former colleague four years ago.
Notably, 28-year-old Cummins becomes the only second specialist pacer in Australia’s cricket history to take the captaincy after Ray Lindwall, who had led for one Test against India in the mid-1950s.
Commenting on his appointment, Cummins, the world’s No.1 ranked Test bowler, said it was an “unexpected” honour. “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. 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,” Cummins said in a statement.
“This is an unexpected privilege which I am very grateful for and am very much looking forward to,” he added.
Cummins was appointed following an interview process with a five-person selection panel and ratification from the full board of CA.
Significantly, selectors George Bailey and Tony Dodemaide, along with CA Board member and former Australia international Mel Jones, interim chair Richard Freudenstein and CEO Nick Hockley had put forward Cummins as the captain after a rigorous assessment of candidates.
Meanwhile, Steve Smith has been named as the vice-captain. Earlier, Smith had spent two years banned from holding any leadership role in Australian cricket following the Cape Town ball-tampering saga in 2018.
Reacting to his appointment, Smith said: “I am pleased to return to the leadership of the team and look forward to helping and assisting Pat in any way I can. Pat and I have played together for a long time, so we know our respective styles well.”
“We are also great friends, as is the whole group. As a team, we want to play good, positive cricket and also really enjoy each other’s company. There are exciting times ahead as we focus on the Ashes and beyond,” he added.
Earlier, Australia’s past 18 Test captains have all batted in the top seven. While there have been a couple of wicketkeepers (Paine, as well Adam Gilchrist and Barry Jarman as fill-ins) and an allrounder (Shane Watson as a one-off stand-in), no frontline bowler has held the role since Benaud.
Last week, Paine had made the announcement stepping down as Australia Test captain in a press conference in Hobart.
“Today, I’m announced my decision to stand down as the captain of the Australian men’s test team. It’s an incredibly difficult decision, but the right one for me, my family, and cricket,” Paine read out from a statement at the presser.
“As a background on my decision, nearly four years ago, I was involved in a text exchange with a then-colleague. At the time, the exchange was the subject of a thorough CA Integrity Unit investigation, throughout which I fully participated in and openly participated in. That investigation and a Cricket Tasmania HR investigation at the same time found that there had been no breach of the Cricket Australia Code of Conduct. Although exonerated, I deeply regretted this incident at the time, and still do today. I spoke to my wife and family at the time and am enormously grateful for their forgiveness and support. We thought this incident was behind us and that I could focus entirely on the team, as I have done for the last three or four years,” he had added.
“However, I recently became aware that this private text exchange was going to become public. On reflection, my actions in 2017 do not meet the standard of an Australian cricket captain, or the wider community. I’m deeply sorry for the hurt and pain that I have caused to my wife, my family, and to the other party. I’m sorry for any damage that this does to the reputation of our sport. And I believe that it is the right decision for me to stand down as captain, effective immediately. I do not want this to become an unwelcome disruption to the team ahead of what is a huge Ashes Series,” he futher expressed.
Cummins first assignment will be the upcoming the five-match Test rubber between hosts Australia and England – The Ashes. The much-awaited series will begin on December 8 at The Gabba in Brisbane.