Daniel Brettig
Assistant editor, ESPNcricinfo

Australia's quest for a leader

The most significant leadership appointment of their winter tours to England may not have been for the Ashes

Daniel Brettig

May 1, 2013

Comments: 75 | Text size: A | A

Steve Smith hits down the ground, India v Australia, 3rd Test, Mohali, 2nd day, March 15, 2013
Steve Smith is not in the Ashes squad, but he is the closest Australia have to a long-term successor to Michael Clarke © BCCI

It has been said of Michael Clarke, in terms both admiring and disparaging, that he prepared to become Australia's captain almost from the day of his birth. Fastidiously developing himself as a cricketer and on-field ringleader, Clarke did all the right things in his teenage years and early 20s to ensure that not long after his recall to the Test side in 2006, it became patently clear to the chairman of selectors, Andrew Hilditch, that he would be the man to succeed Ricky Ponting.

In some ways, Clarke's waiting period for the job was thankless, coinciding with a period of low regard for him among the public and some players. To be deputy to a towering figure in Australian cricket is no easy thing - just ask Mark Taylor about the years he was Allan Border's vice-captain for a reminder that even a leader as universally admired as "Tubby" was temporarily cast as a plodding, methodical heir apparent, lacking the public affection that Border enjoyed in his latter years.

But the sense that Australia had an obvious captain-in-waiting was also reassuring, not least for the selectors. As Hilditch dealt somewhat awkwardly with the national team's slide from pre-eminence to mediocrity, he was at least certain who the next leader would be, and groomed him with appointments for T20 internationals and limited-overs assignments. Clarke had the chance to try the role on for size while still young enough to see a long future ahead, and to recognise that there was more to leadership than setting an apt field for the incoming batsman.

Now, as Clarke is about to embark upon the dual Ashes series that will play a large part in defining his captaincy, Hilditch's successor John Inverarity is looking with increasing urgency for players to whom he could attach a similar level of confidence about leadership. It is proving a highly difficult task.

Inverarity's panel chose a pair of thirtysomethings, each steeped in captaincy at Sheffield Shield level, to be Clarke's lieutenants in the Ashes and the Champions Trophy. Brad Haddin and George Bailey are among the best leadership stock Australian cricket currently possesses, but unless the former defies age in the manner of Graham Gooch or the latter belatedly finds a way to churn out the runs that would demand selection, neither is long-term Test captaincy material.

Haddin's role was expanded beyond that of Clarke's deputy during the Ashes to include the leadership of the Australia A squad, who will gain valuable English experience in whites against the Dukes ball while Clarke attempts to win Australia's third successive Champions Trophy.

The appointments of Clarke, Haddin and Bailey therefore left only one leadership position of any sort to be bestowed upon a young player. To be vice-captain of Australia A may not sound like much, but the selectors' choice of Steve Smith was instructive. While Inverarity noted "we couldn't fit Steve in" the Test squad for England, this does not mean he is far from calculations for the future. On the contrary, Smith is actually the closest thing Australian cricket has right now to a national captain in training.

Smith's promise as a leader and a batsman is modest when lined up against that of Clarke at a similar age, but it is far more than can be said for most of his contemporaries

For many, this may come as a shock. Smith's dancing feet and occasionally impulsive dabbles outside off stump have not yet suggested a great deal of gravitas or even permanence at the Test match batting crease. Much of his career thus far has been dominated by debate about what he actually does. He was always considered a batting allrounder within New South Wales, but his hard-spun legbreaks momentarily shoehorned him into the role as No. 1 spinner for Australia, a case of mistaken identity to rival that of Cameron White.

Yet there have been flashes of leadership potential. Guided by the wise heads of Haddin and Trevor Bayliss at the Sydney Sixers, Smith captained adroitly in the inaugural Big Bash League, helping his team seize their moments after a merely passable qualifying campaign, and then showcasing his boyish grin while lifting the trophy in Perth. Blues team-mates regard Smith as an excellent tactician in the field, and have also been impressed by the gradual but unmistakeable tightening of his batting. If the selectors worried that he was not yet sturdy enough to counter the swinging, seaming ball at Trent Bridge in 2013, they are hopeful there will be no such problem by the time of the next tour, in 2015.

Smith's promise as a leader and a batsman is modest when lined up against that of Clarke at a similar age, but it is far more than can be said for most of his contemporaries. David Warner's brush with the ODI vice-captaincy was brief and has not been repeated. Matthew Wade and Tim Paine have shown a decent combination of steel and smarts at various times, but have the disadvantage of keeping wicket - invariably considered a better position from which to advise than to lead. In Western Australia, Mitchell Marsh has been spoken of for what he might one day accomplish as a leader, but is only now re-emerging as a viable selection option after a year of indiscipline. And that, more or less, is that.

Australia's leadership dearth is every bit as glaring as the hole that has opened up in the nation's batting stocks, and the two issues are not unrelated. Prolific, consistent batsmen have traditionally assumed the captaincy after apprenticeships either domestic or international in nature - see Bradman, Hassett, Simpson, Lawry, the brothers Chappell, Hughes, Border, Taylor, Waugh, Ponting and Clarke. But how to groom a batsman for leadership if he is torn between multiple formats or not even making the requisite runs to claim a consistent domestic place? To that end, Cricket Australia and the selectors are trying to encourage a kind of affirmative action among the states, elevating younger players to more senior positions while also submitting them to leadership training of various kinds.

"It used to be a lot of the Sheffield Shield captains were in the Australian team and getting that leadership experience," Inverarity said when naming the Champions Trophy 15. "We've got to look to get leadership experience in other areas. We've got Steve Smith, who will be vice-captain of Australia A, Ed Cowan was captain of Australia A in England last year. We need to look to give these players various opportunities but also Cricket Australia is investing time and opportunity in a number of players having leadership skills professional development. We need to develop that."

Inverarity went on to refer to "an open field", which seemed a gross understatement. The field is so open that should Clarke decide to conclude his career earlier than most expect, or should his tender back force him to do so, the captaincy would most likely have to pass for a year or two at least to a solid citizen such as Ed Cowan or Bailey. But beyond the short-term, the most obvious next man is Smith, a developing 23-year-old batsman who did not even make the Ashes tour.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Someguy on (May 4, 2013, 8:32 GMT)

@WeirPicki - I think Paine has been passed over because he was out with major thumb injury for quite a long time. I imagine they are wanting to see some form and consistency out of him before recalling him.

I do agree that Paine is the best of the lot with the gloves, and is better than Wade with the bat (at least for test cricket, Wade is good for the shorter formats). Wade drops way too many catches and misses way too many stumpings, I would not be upset if he never played another test match.

Posted by ScottStevo on (May 3, 2013, 12:32 GMT)

@?FB_poster, I think you'll find I'm not way off the mark, and if his 2012/13 sheffield shield stats, ie, his last 12 months in FC cricket, are anything to go by, then you'd be foolhardy to believe he's anywhere near test level with the bat. He made 296 runs in 8 innings at 37...He's not even close to being selected as a batsman. But he's young, and he has a chance to make runs this year. He's a good player of spin, which is why he was on the tour of India...not so great against pace and movement and has a loose technique. It's a bit tough dropping the bloke after he outperformed a few others in India, granted, but at present when we're not playing in India, there's better options available to us...

Posted by WeirPicki on (May 3, 2013, 4:46 GMT)

If Steve Smith is the answer then we are looking down the barrel of the worst period in Australian cricket history. The only part of his game that is remotely Test standard is his fielding. What on Earth has Tim Paine done to upset the selectors? He's far, far better than both Haddin and Wade as a gloveman and his batting is more than handy too. The selectors have lost the plot.

Posted by   on (May 3, 2013, 4:25 GMT)

I think ScottStevo is way off the mark. Have you seen Smith bat in a four day game in the last year or so? Steve Smith has had a very good last couple of seasons in the context of first-class wickets in Australia being bowler friendly. He was also our best batsman in India after Clarke so he has been unlucky to be omitted from the Test squad. He is also a far better batsman than Hughes and even Khawaja now. Smith is the best leader amongst the younger guys in Oz cricket so his ascension to the vice-captaincy of Australia A is hardly coincidental....

Posted by Chris_P on (May 3, 2013, 0:25 GMT)

@landl47 I can't comment on Root as I have seen him for an hour in one test match, but as you recount, his figures are heading the direction so good luck to him. I would & will always question average comparison unless they are in the same team playing on the same pitches. Smith, being from NSW, consistently plays on low turning wickets so batsmen really do earn their runs when they score well there, unlike a couple of other grounds over here (Hughes, for example gladly accepted the different pitch conditions, as did Khawaja). I have been watching Smith for a number of years now & have commented on the improved technique & hard work he has done on his batting. He is no long that crude front foot thrasher of a few years ago, as seen in recent Indian series. Many were surprised by his improved style, I wasn't as I have seen it evolve, & in him I definitely see the seeds of a future leader in waiting. He will move up the order a little in time, he has a good head on him.

Posted by   on (May 2, 2013, 20:44 GMT)

@Landl47, I think you are reading too much into my posts, mate! All i've done is to point out the similarities in the records of the two players, the big difference between the two is that Root is now being fast tracked at every opportunity and backed by everyone in England. By comparison Smith has had the run-around well and truly and would probably benefit greatly from a bit of faith (my original point) and an extended run in either the ODI or test team. Yes he's a little older but still no more experienced at FC/Test level due to spending a lot of his first few seasons in and around the ODI team. Will he or Root turn out to be the better international batsman? I have absolutely no idea!

Posted by acemod on (May 2, 2013, 19:04 GMT)

I guess the Australian parliament has legislated against wicket keepers or bowlers from being considered for captaincy! There are a few good bowlers who seem to have leadership potential and while batsmen may be given preference, in the current situation it seems daft not to entertain the possibility. Imran Khan and Rcihie Benaud were all time great capotains; Kapil Dev was decent - won a world cup in which his inspiration and 175* were crucial; MS Dhoni has proven to be one of the better skippers in world cricket and definatley an all time great India captain. That the above are all rounders shouled go against them as theoretically they are further burdened. Even looking at predominantly bowlers post Imran Wasim Akram was the best captain till off field issues intervened, likwise Kumble proved himself beyond doubt as a capable and effective captian in the short time available to him. Rather then scraping the barrel with unproven batsman the aussies atleast think for the bowlers or wk.

Posted by landl47 on (May 2, 2013, 15:44 GMT)

@Jono Makim: Oh, so you missed the current match then- the one where Root scored 236? Root's career is progressing rapidly. He's already got more hundreds than Smith, and his average, on the strength of the current game, is now up to 42.64. Smith's average has been declining for the last 3 years, although it declined less last season, so he's making progress.

However, if you believe Smith's as good or better than Root, that's your prerogative. Let's see how their careers go over the next few years. Time will tell.

Posted by ScottStevo on (May 2, 2013, 13:32 GMT)

This article is complete trash. For starters, Smith isn't good enough a player to even consider for the test side as yet and unless he scores a heck of runs, shouldn't be considered as his bowling is almost as bad as this article. The only reason Smith moved into contention was that he was an all-rounder - something with CA management seem to hold in high regard of recent times. Why this search for a 5th bowler in the team, unknown? Once it was recognised that his spin was terrible, he's had to declare himself a front line batsmen. In which case, there are several other batsmen in Aus in the queue ahead of Smith. Lastly, why is there such emphasis on the role of captain? Most times a leader will come to the fore when required. As for the on field duties of a captain, just about any one of these guys are capable of selecting bowlers and discussing field placings - albeit if they've not been predetermined from pre-match analysis....

Posted by DwightR on (May 2, 2013, 13:30 GMT)

Clarke is the last of the old school australian breed of cricketer in which they dominated for decades, at 32 he can/should lead australia till the 2019 WC, unless someone really steps up in the Aussie camp, I would invest in David Warner to take over from him, only 26 & an elite opener he would be only 32 should Clarke leave after the 2019 WC.

Posted by volmitius on (May 2, 2013, 12:55 GMT)

and then we wonder that y the Australians are so good... they dont wait for things to happen,they make them happen !!! clarke's ascendancy to skipper's rank wasnt abrupt,he was groomed, molded and prepared to take the rein frm ponting. those people start looking for the next one even before the "goin 2 be" captain taks charge frm the existing 1 whereas in India, a captain first resigns or shown the door,then the haunt for the new starts... hope that this will nt be the case with kohli... he is a captain in making and he needs be brought up like a captain !!!!!!

Posted by   on (May 2, 2013, 12:28 GMT)

@Landl47, You are talking about form, nothing more.

Steve Smith 70FC Innings, Ave 41.65, 5 Centuries.

Joe Root 72FC Innings, Ave 39.57, 5 Centuries.

I really don't see where Root is any better?

Posted by KhanMitch on (May 2, 2013, 11:33 GMT)

@Edwardanderson i wouldn't worry about AK286 mate, he can't help himself critising UTK on every comment.Like you I find it hard that you can critisise a talented batsman when he hasn't had his chance yet, like you i predict Khawaja as a future star. For me Warner as VC in the future would be a smart move for a number of reasons. He is one of the few new batsmen who has a reasonable test average and should improve in England. The responsibility may just make him less impetuous and more measured in his attacking style of batting. He was beginning to show a much more sensible approach to his game but was found out badly, as were most batsmen, in India. There's no one else opening who would do better than him at present so I think, despite Reds feelings, that his position is more secure than most.. And I count that India experience as a learning process and dont think a major change in the team is necessary. But I think Warner may be a master stroke as vice captain for the future.

Posted by landl47 on (May 2, 2013, 11:32 GMT)

@Jono Makim: the answer to your query about how many of Smith's 50s have not been converted into hundreds because he ran out of partners is very few. He's only had 3 not outs in the last 3 seasons and none in 2011/12 and 2012/13. He had a 6* in England in 2012 and otherwise you have to go back to 2010/11 to find a not out.

As for Joe Root, Smith's stats don't stack up anything like his. Root is only just 22, almost 2 years younger, and last year, when he was 21, his County average was 49. This year he's made more runs in 2 games than Smith has made in 2 of his last 3 seasons, and twice as many hundreds in a week as Smith has made in 3 years.

If you're hoping to find a comparison with Root in Smith, you're way off the mark.

Posted by landl47 on (May 2, 2013, 11:20 GMT)

Just a comment on SAF's post. True, Smith has an average of 41.6, but that's because in the Australian season of 2009/10, when he was 20, he had an average of 77 with 4 hundreds. Since then his seasons' averages have been 31, 38 and 40, with just one more hundred, in 2011/2012. He's going in the right direction, but it's hardly awe-inspiring. At nearly 24 you'd expect a player with test potential to be doing rather better.

I like Smith; I think he has been handled poorly (and being excluded from the Ashes squad is another example of that), but I believe he has the potential if he's given some consistency in his management. He's a good fielder and from all accounts, not least his own, a good team man. What he needs is to start making some big scores to show he's real test class.

After that maybe we can talk about captaincy.

Posted by thirst on (May 2, 2013, 11:01 GMT)

What about Mitchell Starc? He is defintely going to be one of Australia's long term opening bowlers and the way he bats he could easily be regarded as a future Wasim Akram or Kapil Dev.. What do you reckon???

Posted by Beertjie on (May 2, 2013, 10:26 GMT)

Priceless that one, Daniel, about how Smith's "hard-spun legbreaks momentarily shoehorned him into the role as No. 1 spinner for Australia, a case of mistaken identity to rival that of Cameron White." If he gets runs next season, @Spandan Biswal on (May 1, 2013, 14:00 GMT), he'll get his chance in the return series, but if were taken to England there would be only one spinner. They'll take another spinner as the 17th player. But I doubt Smith can make it short term and a few pundits here don't appreciate that because of his back Clarke will be out within 2 years or so. My pick as his successor, like @Trent George on (May 2, 2013, 5:11 GMT), is Paine. He needs to follow Haddin into the team asap provided he has a good start as a batsmen next season.

Posted by ygkd on (May 2, 2013, 9:48 GMT)

One thing needs to be said. The next Australian captain should not be a number six unless he bowls some serious overs and Smith's bowling has been of the sort that is best left unmentioned. Therefore, Smith not only needs to consolidate a place, but prove himself up the order before anyone should get too excited.

Posted by shawndavisalexander on (May 2, 2013, 9:02 GMT)

Can I ask why in recent years there is such an issue being made in terms of finding a successor? I cannot recall this being such an issue 3-4 years ago. Clarke has only been captain for a little over 2 years and for a bloke with the best part of 4 years left in the Aussie team still has a lot left to contribute. When the time comes the best person will make the step up. Im a kiwi and the same has been looked at of Kane Williamson as being "groomed" as a future leadership prospect. Mccullum is the same age as Clarke and even when Ross Taylor was there who's only in his late 20's a fuss was being made over future leaders. They gave KW captaincy in a series last year when the guy was only 21 and just dealing with the burden of expectation of being the next Martin Crowe. Let the players build their games and contribute their potential to their respective national sides under the current captain. There are always healthy candidates when the time comes.

Posted by Broken_F-ing_Arm on (May 2, 2013, 8:44 GMT)

wow has anyone in the comment section bothered to read the article. The article suggests that Steve Smith may be a decent captaincy option in 4-5 yrs time when clarke retires. People are acting like the selectors just announced him as captain, of course the selectors and Mr Brettig know Smith has to prove himself as a batsmen 1st.

Posted by   on (May 2, 2013, 7:55 GMT)

@Jayzuz, well said. Smith's stats stack up a lot like Joe Root's and every englishman and his dog are backing him. He could be an ideal 6 really and maybe should have been granted an extended run after his exploits in India. Still, I feel he and a few others will be given a chance through the A tour to push for a place in touring party.

Any stats buffs out there know how many of Smiths fifties were not converted to hundreds because he ran out of partners? I think this is of interest because in my judgement the players we need in the team are scoring centuries once in every 7-8 innings. Perhaps early on in his career Smith has missed a couple of close opportunities and it is dragging down his stats, not sure. Anyway, good luck to him and as ever I wish any of these young bucks well as we need them all scoring runs!

Posted by itisme on (May 2, 2013, 7:12 GMT)

If there is no one better than Steve Smith to be considered for the next Australian captain, then this shows the bankrptcy of Australian cricket. Come on, a man (is he a batsman or a bowler?) who cannot find a permanent place in the current test team (ref: John Inverarity), how can he be a captainship material? Australian cricket, ha ha ha!!!

Posted by pauln2 on (May 2, 2013, 6:57 GMT)

Real shake the head stuff. Why are the Australian selectors so keen to handcuff themselves by naming a vice-captain for every match and trying to put a line of succession in place using players who are not sure selections in the test team (I know, I know, there are only a couple of sure selections and one is already captain). Trying to pick who might be a good skipper four or five years down the track is nuts. If Clarke's back puts him out of the England tour tomorrow, who would take over? Haddin, I guess, since he's the nominated vice-captain, but is that the best choice? Why not go with Clarke in the chair at the moment, pick the best replacement should one be needed and look over the other candidates in a timely fashion. Tomorrow's not here yet.

Posted by AKS286 on (May 2, 2013, 6:54 GMT)

S.Marsh, Ferguson, Cosgrove, Voges, Smith, Quiney,Finch. Maddinson, Klinger, Doolan, Birt, Burns, Silk, Bailey,Pome'bach are far far better than below average ordinary batsman khawaja but some fans try to prove that he is the supaman, the next One.He is an average batsman why to overate and stick with him be flexible in which the matter is what is good for Aus and don't think like this what is good for Clarke or my favourite player, or my individual hero. I really miss P.Jacques.

Posted by wix99 on (May 2, 2013, 6:48 GMT)

I hope Steve Smith gets more opportunities to play for Australia. I think he is the kind of player Australia is looking for to fill the No. 6 position. The team needs a player who is capable of making quick runs as well as digging in when required. Being able to bowl a few overs of spin is handy even if Smith doesn't really deserve the title of allrounder. If Smith can prove himself to be consistent and reliable at No. 6 then he could definitely be Australia's next captain.

Posted by   on (May 2, 2013, 6:42 GMT)

Steven Smith is a player who can lead the team from the front for sure. He has all the skills to manage the team and the supporting staff. Shaun Marsh, Henriques, Roher, M Marsh are the players aussies can consider of for longer term. Clarke is 32 now and Bailey is 30. CA needs to give more and more responsibilities to Maxwell, Steven Smith and Moises Henriques for the future prospects. How disgusting that Smith is not in the CT squad as well as in Ashes squad. They need to think in longer prospect if they want to retain the same position of their team as it was while Steve Waugh was there.

Posted by AKS286 on (May 2, 2013, 6:41 GMT)

Smith, Paine, Finch, Marsh are the best option. This Ashes will be the farewell of haddin and also this column is for future leader Haddin, Watto, Siddle, are only for maximum 1 year. And not my negative comments anyone except of blindfolded Australian can comment fact about overate Lyon, khawaja, Cowan. Look how better ENGLAND is grooming well deserved ROOT as a future captain. Anyone is better than clarke.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (May 2, 2013, 6:19 GMT)

@AKS286 usually i ignore your negative comments on Khawaja, but seriously mate lets talk about something else. I don't think he is meant to be our batting saviour but he is a fine young batsman and if he can be half as good as Hussey then I will take it, but the key point here is that he get a good runs similar to what Hughes and Cowan has had. As for Mary i am guessing she is from NSW as Khawaja, Warner, Hughes and Maddinson are her favorite players from what i have read of her comments, and good on her for talking up her favorites, we need more female comments on this website.

Posted by Nicely_Time.Man on (May 2, 2013, 6:12 GMT)

Interesting column i personally thanks to CA for looking for a new Leader. Clarke is good but due to respectl problems he axed seniors. and some people around here mentions Siddle, Haddin, Watto. But Australia need future captains. These players don't have much cricket left. Australian captain is known for great leadership (exception M.Taylor) Australia produced iconic leaders. Don't try hit & trial method as we do for spinners. Still Aus is having some shame when lyon represents Aus. Smith is a born leader (agree to many fans) and deserves to become captain. But my first choice is Tim Paine if he gets a Test cap. If Aus fails in Ashes definitely Cowan and some players will be out from the team. England is grooming Root Remember how G.Smith for SA & Dhoni for India proves. themselves.

Posted by   on (May 2, 2013, 6:11 GMT)

paine is the man!!! needs a good start to next season tho! what he did in the final shows hes still got it

Posted by   on (May 2, 2013, 6:02 GMT)

shows were australian cricket is at imagine him in the same light as the chappells, border mark taylor what a joke

Posted by BobFleming on (May 2, 2013, 5:44 GMT)

@jayzuz Would that assumption be anything like the one made about Jimmy Anderson in late 2010? I seem to remember some ARI coated voices guffawing over his previous tour's statistics and the whole "Ok on a green 'un at Trent Bridge" thing...

Posted by mravikiran on (May 2, 2013, 5:31 GMT)

When a top performing player is made a captain, then his performance would fall down. This is not a problem with the player. It is an administration problem, inability to manage the political factors.

Posted by   on (May 2, 2013, 5:05 GMT)

Mitchell Marsh will be the future captain.

Posted by Insult_2_Injury on (May 2, 2013, 3:50 GMT)

Steve Smith, Captain of Australia...god help us, how bad are our stocks?

Posted by   on (May 2, 2013, 3:01 GMT)

straws at grasping ... rearrange

IF (and its no means certain) Oz get pummeled in England like they did in India or even at the CT then Clarke will be under immense pressure and looking at the boys in waiting ... sheesh

For years I endured this BTW as an England supporter. My view (for what its worth) is its not your cricketers that want shooting but your executive board.

Looking forward to a good summers cricket ... May the team who plays the best cricket win !

BTW - off topic but how come Watson and Warner can look so good in the IPL but look so ordinary in a Baggy Green in India???


Posted by sando31 on (May 2, 2013, 2:41 GMT)

For some reason I've always disliked Smith, but seeing him lately in India and now in the ipl its quite obvious that he has a good head on his shoulders, is quite smart and calculating and isn't as erratic as some of the other batsmen.

Posted by Mary_786 on (May 2, 2013, 1:59 GMT)

Lyon or Warner would do good as future leaders. @AK2678 you seem to end your comments with the same batsman but always with negative ones.

Posted by Jayzuz on (May 2, 2013, 1:56 GMT)

@landl47, your comment is typical of English comments about young Australian players they have seen only a few times. The assumption is that they will never improve. You have that one first impression in mind, and that is the end of story. This is a pervasive tendency amongst the English media too. Given that Smith is only 23, and has shown gradual improvement over time, it is logical to assume he will only get better. I'm willing to give him a chance. I think he's better than many give credit for. I said at the start of the last India tour that he should be in the test team, which was considered ridiculous at the time. My reasoning was that he is quick on his feet and a good player of spin. As it turns out, I was proven correct when he finally got his chance.

Posted by Buckers97 on (May 2, 2013, 1:13 GMT)

About time Steve Smith was recognised as somthing. He is deffinateky Australia's batting future and I have believed he is a leader since making his test debut. Phill Hughes also needs to be groomed to be a vice captain and Mitchell Marsh as a futurefuture captain

Posted by Amith_S on (May 2, 2013, 1:10 GMT)

Interesting points being made here by folks. I like Haddin but wouldn't have made him VC because he is past his prime. But folks are on the right path in mentioning someone who could handle the vice captaincy well if he can out perform Wade. Paine has had in fact a very good later season this year and has raised his batting average as well. He's still young enough and can I believe improve, whereas I dont think Haddin can this late in his cricket life. He has handled captaincy well in the past and was even seen by selectors as a future captain. I like Wade but if we are looking for someone who wont diminish the batting too much and is at least a match with the gloves and a proven captain, Paine would seem the best choice. @AK286 I believe Khawaja is also future leadership material and selectors have given him leadership roles in the last few years. But i would also want him to focus on his batting in the ashes and once he is established then he can be considered.

Posted by Javed_17 on (May 2, 2013, 1:06 GMT)

Steve Smith - Austrailian Captain. titles are earned and should not be given. I think give steve a more active BATTING role first before you truly groom him to see if he is not another bailey or haddin. Why i say this is because at best he comes over as an occaisonal bowler which surely doesnt guarantee a place in the side and his batting is definitely far better (regardless of his 'dancing' feet). Put the chap in at 4 for ODIs and we get a fairly good impression

Posted by RodStark on (May 2, 2013, 1:03 GMT)

Australia seem peculiarly concerned with this succession issue. They always have to appoint a vice-captain even when it's the vice-captain of a temporary captain. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with this, but it seems to go further than other countries do. What would England do if Cook had to retire suddenly? They may see Root as a potential captain sometime in the future, but in the short term it could be any of anumber of possibilities. The case where Cook was the long-term plan to take over from Strauss was the first case of long-term succession planning that I can recall (maybe Vaughan from Hussein?).

What Australia should be doing is involving a number of younger players in management and know that the right candidate will emerge when the time comes. They certainly shouldn't forget what always used to be their mantra: first pick your best XI and then choose a captain from that.

Posted by Amith_S on (May 2, 2013, 0:55 GMT)

@AK286 you continue your negative attacks on one player, perhaps its best to let him have his chance first before putting him down given he has been on the bench since November. I would definitly have Khawaja as one of the future leaders and no doubting his batting ability but like hyclass i would have warner and siddle ahead of him. I was also leaning towards Wade but he can't be vice captain as he needs to improve his catching ability It's a shame CA catapulted him into the Test team so early, when Brad Haddin still had (and still has) so much to give, and who would be an automatic VC.

Posted by hycIass on (May 2, 2013, 0:46 GMT)

@AK286 mary won't but i will, Khawaja is a good future leader, he was captain of the chairman's X1 against Sri Lanka and also under 19 teams for NSW. But ahead of him i would put either Warner or Siddle, Siddle especially has alot of heart.

Posted by Gopal321 on (May 2, 2013, 0:40 GMT)

Hey, the Sunrisera are helping by grooming Aaron Finch

Posted by   on (May 1, 2013, 23:59 GMT)

I'm slowly coming around to progress that Steve Smith has made in his career as well. He is steadily accumulating runs now that he has decided to put his spinning on the backburner and with his current average of 42-odd he qualifies to be one of the permanent members of the test team. He is also a definite candidate for captaincy. I might be beating a dead horse here but it is conceivable that Maxwell could eventually take over the leadership role and slot into #7 as a spinning all-rounder. If he can maintain at least a 35 bat average and improve a touch to a 30 bowling average it will be extremely difficult to justify his non-inclusion in the test team.

Posted by __PK on (May 1, 2013, 22:57 GMT)

We're paying the price for never giving James Hopes the opportunities he deserved. He would have been a solid and reliable allrounder (not often a match-winner, but rarely having a bad game) and he's clearly a fine captain, as his domestic record shows. But when you only look for future leaders who wear the baggy blue, you're limiting your options a bit.

Posted by ygkd on (May 1, 2013, 22:42 GMT)

I'd agree with Meety that Moises Henriques looks the goods, but he needs to confirm his place in the side. The problem is though, he and Smith would seem to be in direct competition for the number six berth. Australia has too many number sixes. Smith's bowling could yet prove handy but his batting needs to continue to improve so he can warrant a place up the order. Henriques needs to bowl more. Paine still looks like a captain without a side.

Posted by   on (May 1, 2013, 22:19 GMT)

My bottom dollar is for Steve Smith. I will elaborate later Ranjan Rodrigo Sydney

Posted by Meety on (May 1, 2013, 22:18 GMT)

There is no problems with CA grooming a bloke to be captain, as long as IF the numbers don't stack, they have other options in place. I really can see Steve Smith becoming an established Test captain in the future, he is obviously working on his technique & I think that will yield dividends in the future. Smith is still young, my only concern is, that it wasn't that long ago, that Clarke publicly stated that he MAY NOT be playing Intrnational cricket by 2015, which is only 18mths away! Oz cricket tend not to do short term captaincy appointments, so the next captain of the Baggy Green could be Warner, Cowan, Bailey or Smith. I would like to say that another bloke could do the job, in Moises Henriques. I wouldn't totally discount White either, he has reasonable FC stats - just no real current form.

Posted by Chris_P on (May 1, 2013, 22:16 GMT)

@Bonehead_maz. You nailed it. Everyone complaining about his test batting average, hundreds etc, don't realize that Steve Waugh's efforts at the same age was worse. And I would wager not one of them have ever seen him in action for NSW. He is no doubt, a thinking player & appears to have grasped the concept of getting the best out of his players, no doubt helped by Haddin's influence. The article is obviously talking about long term, & by that at least 5 years, but as usual, many who post have no concept of vision. @zeus_kris. Smith's batting average is better than Steve Waugh's at the same age, let's be glad you weren't around then to bag Waugh's promotion through the ranks.

Posted by Meety on (May 1, 2013, 22:12 GMT)

@Bonehead_maz on (May 1, 2013, 20:41 GMT) - if only Smith stuck to his leggies, I really felt he had a lot more talent than he's given credit for. He shouldn't of been thrown in as a lead spinner.

Posted by Bonehead_maz on (May 1, 2013, 21:41 GMT)

In 1952/3, while in transition, Australia picked a 22 yo legspinning allrounder with leadership potential. His bowling was TERRIBLE and his batting loose. He was for several years a fringe player.

8 or so years later Richie Benaud became Australian captain - did alright at it too !

Posted by tfjones1978 on (May 1, 2013, 21:18 GMT)

I dont see smith being Australias next test captain for one simple reason, the next ODI world cup is 2015 and with being 34 at the time & with a deteriating back I do not foresee Clarke playing beyond that. Clarke will be 34 in April 2015, the same age as Mark Taylor when he retired from international cricket (Clarke referred to Mark Taylors age of retirement when speaking about his). In two years time Australia will loose its only player whom is guaranteed a spot in the side if his back is in form, Michael Clarke. In two years time, Haddin, Rogers (if ever) and Watson will no longer be in the side due to age or form. I believe these 10 tests will be Watsons last. This leaves only two players around 30-32 mark in 2015 to be captain, being Cowan and Siddle. It has been 50 years since a permanent captain has been a bowler and he has now retired from broadcasting after doing that role for the last 50 years, being our former great spinner Ricky Beneau.

Posted by landl47 on (May 1, 2013, 20:41 GMT)

Possibly Steve Smith could become Australia's first non-playing captain? That opens up intriguing possibilities- since he is becoming adept at carrying out the drinks, he could use that skill to get him in the middle to pass on instructions. When Australia fields, he is an excellent fielder, so a succession of players could go off 'injured' allowing him to become fielding captain (as far as I know, there's no rule prohibiting a sub from acting as captain).

It also means that he could be generous in his praise for others when Australia wins, without being held responsible when Australia loses. What a great job to have!

See, with a little ingenuity the fact that Smith isn't good enough to be in the squad can be overcome.

Posted by Yes.Valkyries on (May 1, 2013, 20:21 GMT)

Yes Smith is the born leader and must be T20 & ODI captain. and yes also agree to AKS286 about mary_786 don't start with khwaja and end your comment with khawaja.

Posted by UndertheGrill on (May 1, 2013, 19:57 GMT)

Steve Smith IS the new Cameron White!

Posted by AKS286 on (May 1, 2013, 19:50 GMT)

Very good choice he is the perfect man to lead, smith is born leader. Please Mary_786 don't come with khawaja.

Posted by Simarpreet2107 on (May 1, 2013, 18:15 GMT)

Steve smith is a good choice.But i think before giving him opportunity he has to be confirmed secure pick in all formats of the game (t20 is optional) for at least couple of years.So at present brad haddin should be given this opportuniy.

Posted by   on (May 1, 2013, 18:00 GMT)

Is this article serious ? Has he even played a couple of series for Australia ? How can he get respect as a leader ???

Posted by   on (May 1, 2013, 17:43 GMT)

He doesnt even deserve a place in the squad and they would make him the captain, thats shocking. I think that Glenn Maxwell is the best choice.

Posted by   on (May 1, 2013, 17:15 GMT)

Boy, Australia is finished for at least 5- 7 years. My friends from down under can only dream of a dominating team in few years to come..

Posted by   on (May 1, 2013, 16:39 GMT)

3 years back, Smith was meant to be the next Warne. And now they're preparing him to be Australia's next captain. A tad over-rated, no??

Posted by   on (May 1, 2013, 16:32 GMT)

Steve Smith is a future captain? Isn't this article supposed to be on Page 2?

Posted by playitstraight on (May 1, 2013, 15:57 GMT)

So this is what Australia have come to. Oh my goodness. Steve Smith, who has been a passenger in the team for so many years, is now supposedly a choice for captain? Unbelievable. How low has Australian cricket fallen? Feels like they are becoming the current WI, all the glory from the past gone. Then again, not like anyone would want a trash-talker like Dave Warner to lead Australia.

Posted by stickboy on (May 1, 2013, 15:56 GMT)

Sad state of Australian cricket when we are thinking of choosing a player who isn't close to cementing a spot in the team. 10 years back Steve Smith wouldn't get a game for Australia at all, let alone being captain. I hope he gets better, but he's not a bowler anymore and his batting is not that great, esp for long formats.

Posted by derpherp on (May 1, 2013, 15:43 GMT)

The day Steve Smith captains the test team is the day he has a first class average of 45+ and has 25 first class hundreds. He has a loooong way to go...

Posted by Winsome on (May 1, 2013, 15:41 GMT)

Steve Smith might turn out to be a skipper for Aus but he has to be a confirmed secure pick in at least one of the formats before this kind of speculation has any point to it.

Posted by   on (May 1, 2013, 15:13 GMT)

I have no idea what makes Smith any more likely than a whole host of others, other than the fact he has the VC badge for the A tour. As stated, both Cowan and Warner have both recently held similar positions and so far it has come to nothing. Its completely futile trying to pick the next long term captain at this point. I just want to see these blokes start making runs, do that and the captaincy issue will resolve itself!

Posted by   on (May 1, 2013, 15:00 GMT)

Honestly seeing Steve Smith's approach in the Indian tests and now in the IPL, I am surprised that he has to been pushed up the ladder, or that there are doubts about him. Which stupid selection committee drops a player after a good performance in one test series, by saying its a horses for courses approach. The Ashes could have been a good breeding ground for him - but then, I forget, the Ashes are too sacred for Australia to give an in-form player a chance to prove that his form can be carried over.

Posted by zeus_kris on (May 1, 2013, 14:55 GMT)

Wow. This article is outlandish. So, what is Smith's test average? Can he claim to have a permanent place in the test side based on just his batting skills. Is he one of the top 6 test batsmen going around in australia currently? How many 100s has he scored in sheffield shield? Just because he has captained a domestic T20 side qualified him to be a aussie test captain?

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Daniel BrettigClose
Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.

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