Australia v South Africa, first Test, Brisbane November 8, 2012

Australia's captain without a deputy


Australia have not named a vice-captain for the Gabba Test, partially due to the fear it would create expectations of a succession plan for Michael Clarke's eventual departure.

The absence of the official vice-captain, Shane Watson, due to injury has left the Australians without a nominated second-in-command for the first Test against South Africa, but Ricky Ponting is expected to take control should Clarke have to leave the field.

Brad Haddin served as vice-captain during last summer's home Tests against New Zealand and India in Watson's absence. David Warner was later installed as the vice-captain for the triangular ODI series against India and Sri Lanka when Watson was sidelined, but he was overlooked for the leadership when Clarke also succumbed to injury.

Ponting took over the captaincy and Warner remained vice-captain, and the set-up was a minor embarrassment for John Inverarity and his fellow selectors, who have preferred not to name a vice-captain this time around.

"We have had discussions about this," Cricket Australia's chief executive officer James Sutherland said. "The feeling has been, and this has come through the selection panel, that they didn't feel there was a need to appoint a vice-captain given that Shane is the nominated vice-captain. I think it's reasonably obvious who the nominal vice-captain would be if Michael went off the ground.

"But the selectors gave feedback to the board and it was decided that it wasn't necessary, and it may well only confuse things to be looking for someone to appoint as a vice-captain, because people might make presumptions about that appointment."

Although Warner, 26, was viewed as a player with leadership potential last summer, Australia are far from certain who will eventually be groomed as Clarke's successor. If Clarke and Watson were both to miss a Test through injury, there is every possibility that Ponting would be temporarily reinstated, but with the Australians hopeful of regaining Watson for the second Test in Adelaide they believe the vice-captaincy is not a major concern.

"With the Cricket Australia board you don't have to officially name a vice-captain for every Test match," Clarke said. "I'm certain if I go off the field there'll be somebody there that can do that. At this stage we haven't officially a vice-captain.

"There's plenty of guys - Mike Hussey, Ricky Ponting, Matthew Wade stands right beside me if I'm in first slip. We've got plenty of options there. Let's hope I'm on the field the whole time and I don't have to worry about it."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Alex on November 9, 2012, 5:34 GMT

    Michael hussey should be VC

  • Michael on November 9, 2012, 0:00 GMT

    Hey Jonesy2: Are you predicting Mitch Marsh to win the Melbourne Cup next year, too?

  • Mashuq on November 8, 2012, 20:19 GMT

    Good comments @Dangertroy. Warner is being given every chance but whatever leadership qualities he has will always be ranked behind his ability to command an automatic place in the team. Watto needs to drop down the order to be a viable selection in whatever capacity.

  • Bryn on November 8, 2012, 15:40 GMT

    but they probably dont want to give the VC officially to warner right now because there would be all this buzz about him being groomed as the next skipper and scrutiny on everything he does like there was when pup was first VC

  • Bryn on November 8, 2012, 15:38 GMT

    this is a non issue if there ever was one haha. ponting (the most winningest captain and player in cricket history), hussey or warner could be vice captain. but its not an issue. the future captain of australia is not even something that needs to be thought about although i predict it will be mitch marsh or warner himself. having said that we dont really know the cricketing brains and leadership skills of guys like pat cummins or mitch starc, they could be prospective captains for all we know.

  • Sriram on November 8, 2012, 13:04 GMT

    But isnt Mickey the captain and Clarke his deputy?

  • Dummy4 on November 8, 2012, 12:16 GMT

    Punter would take control if Clarke was off the field, case closed. 77 tests as captain, no brainer.

  • Troy on November 8, 2012, 12:05 GMT

    I think this really points to the fact that apart from Clarke, no one has any guarantees going forward. Both openers have yet to cement themselves in their positions. Watson is in if he's not injured, but that's certainly no guarantee. Ponting and Hussey are both in their twilight, it's series by series for them, if not game by game. Wade conversely has only just secured his spot, he needs more experience before he can be considered. The fast bowlers are likely to be rotated and may not play consecutive games, and Nathan Lyon is still being questioned, despite his good performances. I really like this team, I think they are all deserve their spots and if they can get some consistency up, they have a good shot at the ashes. But right here, right now, it's hard to point to someone who can be a consistent backup to Clarke, and can be groomed for the future. Longer term, it could be Wade, but its likely the next VC/ captain isn't in the side yet.

  • Andrew on November 8, 2012, 10:50 GMT

    I think this is a non-event really. The V/c position is really only ceremonial whilstever Punter & Hussey are in the side. A part of me would of liked them to give it to Wade, but then I thought - why not Siddle? In the end Pup gets his advice from Punter & Huss & via SMS from Warney!!!!

  • Jason on November 8, 2012, 10:38 GMT

    This sounds a bit silly and paranoid. Why not just name a VC? Warner was named VC of the one day team last season. Huss deserves to be named at least as a reward. And if Ponting will stand in, then just name him. Ahh, maybe CA gives bonus pay to a VC! So if they don't name one, no bonus pay!

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