Newly-appointed Australia captain Pat Cummins on Friday indicated that his leadership style could be different from his predecessors, saying he will be leaning a lot on his deputy Steve Smith for tactical advice.
Cummins was named Australia’s first fast bowler Test captain on a full-time basis on Friday, November 26, with former skipper Smith as his deputy, to replace Tim Paine, who resigned last week over a ‘sexting’ scandal four years ago.
10 years ago today I made my Test debut, crazy! Awesome to have played with/against some of the greats of Cricket in that game like Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, Johnson, Kallis, Steyn and De Villiers etc pic.twitter.com/6AsldcP0Ym
— Pat Cummins (@patcummins30) November 17, 2021
“It might look a little bit different from the outside potentially to other captains in the past. There’s a couple of more unknowns about having a bowling captain and that’s why from the outset I was absolutely determined if I was captain to have someone like Steve as vice-captain next to me,” Cummins told reporters.
“There will be times on the field when I throw to Steve, and you’ll see Steve moving fielders around, maybe doing bowling changes and taking a bit more of an elevated vice-captaincy and that’s what I really want,” he added.
The 28-year-old Cummins, who has taken 164 wickets in 34 Tests since making his debut in 2011, made it clear that he will lean heavily on experienced Smith, who has played 77 Tests for his on-field decisions.
“There’s going to be times where I’m out in the middle, it’s a hot day, I’m in the middle of a (bowling) spell and I need to turn to people for advice for tactics, for experience, and that’s one of the big reasons I wanted Steve to be vice-captain.”
“Steve’s got such huge strengths, especially around tactically out on the field and sees it differently from first slip, huge experience with spinners, bowling changes and mapping out a game so I’ll be leaning on him hugely for that. We’ll nut out how exactly that works, but it will be a real collaborative approach,” added Cummins whose captaincy begins with the first Ashes Test against England at the Gabba on December 8.
Cummins said he made it clear to the five-person panel of Cricket Australia board members, chief executive Nick Hockley and national selectors which interviewed him that Smith is “so central to how I see my captaincy style. It’s obviously not our decision who’s the captain and who’s vice-captain. I made it pretty clear if I was given the captaincy that this is how I saw the team running and tried to bring Steve along for that as well because he’s so central to how I see my captaincy style and how I see the team functioning.”
“We both got a chance to think quite a lot about it over the last few days before we presented to a couple of board members and selectors, and that was after chatting between us two as well. I could not think of a better bloke, and a bloke that gives you more comfort if I was to be injured or miss a game.”
EXCLUSIVE: @RickyPonting welcomes the appointment of Pat Cummins as Test captain, and highlights the ‘really important’ role vice-captain Steve Smith must now fill as his deputy #Ashes https://t.co/pgak6dltzO
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) November 26, 2021
Smith admitted that his return to a leadership role may not be universally accepted. “I think there will be some negativity from some people about it,” he said. “I understand that. But I know that I’ve grown a great deal over the last three or four years. I’m a more rounded individual and in turn, I think it’s turned me into a better leader.”
He said he will be “completely guided” by Cummins and his job is to do whatever his captain needs on the field. “If there are times where Patrick hands to me and wants me to take over and do some different things on the field, I’m there for that.”
He also said a “lot of the pressure and responsibility of being perfect is unreasonable. I won’t always get things right, I’m certainly not perfect.”