Hayden banks on 'wingman' Smith to aid Cummins at the World Cup

The former Australia opener also feels Warner should be locked in to open at the World Cup

A bowling captain who plays all three formats, and leads in two of them. Pat Cummins has a lot on his plate, especially with an ODI World Cup in India coming up, but Matthew Hayden feels that with Steven Smith always "flapping around" on the field, "it's a solution that Australia's got covered" at the moment. However, Hayden feels Cummins is a very different sort of ODI World Cup captain for Australia from the ones of the past.
"We've always had a very settled Australian captain with vast experience when you think back to the World Cups - Allan Border's World Cup-winning effort here in India [in 1987], [had] lots of experience," Hayden said at an event in Mumbai. "It was a legacy captaincy, and you could go right down through the ages: Ricky Ponting, [and] Michael Clarke - all World Cup winners, and all [with] vast experience.
"It's got to help, there's no doubt about it. But between the other characters like Steve Smith - you've seen how visible he is when Pat's got the ball in his hand, he's flapping around as he busily does anyway. But he has got a good wingman in Steve Smith as well, again with lots of experience. So, I'm not saying it's a team captaincy, but I think it's a solution that Australia's got covered."
One of the topics of discussion in Australia - not just leading into the World Cup, but also otherwise - has been the future of David Warner in the national team. In fact, not just Warner, but other senior players too, with chances that Australia could well be heading towards one of those periods of transition all teams go through. As far as Hayden is concerned, though, Warner is a lock at the top of the batting order at the World Cup.
"[Travis] Head and Warner, I think, are your key openers," Hayden said. "[Mitchell] Marsh can do a job. But in all conditions, when you look at the role that Marsh is going to play as an allrounder, I think a specialist opening a World Cup is important.
"But if you're an Australian coach, you'd have no question going, 'We want Marsh to come up and open'. And his role can float in and around the order on any given day if they need to have quick runs inside the powerplay, for example, rather than, well, you talk about Travis; he's still got a strike rate of 96. So it's still an enormous strike rate. But Marsh can be someone that can have an impact at the top if on any given day they need to have a bigger powerplay than any other given opportunity."
Warner has already said that he is hoping to sign off from Test cricket in Sydney in the new year when Pakistan visit, and finish up with international cricket altogether at the 2024 T20 World Cup. It might not be in his hands, though.
"Knowing Australian selectors and the Australian sporting culture, the selectors wouldn't sit around the table and say, 'oh, what does David Warner want in terms of his own playing career?' They would look at it in terms of is he performing and what is our plan as a nation around how it is we project this series, into the next series," Hayden said.
"Because in 2024, India come [to Australia] for the first five Test-match series. So they'll be looking at all those factors, and they'll also be concerned about why it is that they haven't got options aplenty when it comes to replacing David Warner.
"I think back to my time as well, and at that time, there was myself, Greg Blewett, Matthew Elliott… there were four or five really great options with strong first-class performances over a long period of time. So we're always having to look at our first-class set-up, and the names that have been always coming around have been [Marcus] Harris, [Matt] Renshaw - these names which are more than capable of producing good Test-match cricket.
"Australia has always been ruthless around turning over players. In my time, Mark Waugh - who could have played another 50-60 games - gave way to a young Hayden"
Matthew Hayden on Australia's culture when it comes to transition
"But are they as good as Davey Warner? And the answer is, in their [selectors'] eyes, no. But sooner rather than later, their answer is going to have to be, 'what is our next step?' Now David's saying that's on his terms in Sydney, but I don't think that's necessarily what the Australian selectors will be thinking."
Aaron Finch has retired, and while Cummins might have a few years in him, Nathan Lyon at 35, might not. Usman Khawaja is 36 and Smith and Glenn Maxwell are 34. Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood are 33 and 32, respectively. Thus, the Australian selectors will have a lot to think about soon.
"Experience matters," Hayden said. "I think Maxwell was reported saying that the scars of his past were something that he felt he could use to his advantage. And I don't disagree with that. I guess when we look at age groups of players now, we tend to think about my generation or the generation before. The modern player has had so much attention and detail to his fitness, and I just think that age group - maybe it was 35 during our professional playing years - it's maybe into that sort of higher end of the 30s, even 37, 38.
"Australia has always been ruthless, though, around turning over players. In my time, Mark Waugh - who could have played another 50-60 games - gave way to a young Hayden. [That] gave me an opportunity to play 50-odd games ahead of a World Cup, and it paid dividends because I still, a bit like Maxwell was saying, believe that experience does matter in a World Cup.
"When you're under pressure, you've been away from home a long time, you're in the cauldron of Kolkata or over in Chennai where we play India in the first game on the 8th [of October], if you've been there, and done it before, and a lot of these players have played extensive seasons of IPL cricket, [and] have had three or four, five, six, even seven tours of this country. And they've broken the back of India as well in India.
"The last series, I think back in March, was 2-1 [in Australia's favour]. So lots to prove, but also I suppose on the other side of it, youthful talent and also unseen talent can also blast away, and just no one's really seen them, and they take on the world and perform on that stage."

Sruthi Ravindranath is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo