South Australia's selectors have axed Nathan Adcock from the Pura Cup team and handed the captaincy to his deputy Graham Manou. The move had been anticipated for some time following Adcock's poor run with the bat - he averages 13.83 in first-class matches this year - but the selectors finally lost patience and left him out of the side to face Tasmania on Friday.
The Redbacks' chairman of selectors, Paul Nobes, said that Adcock remained in charge of the limited-overs outfit and the decision was purely based on his Pura Cup form rather than the players having lost confidence in him. "We pick the cricket team, then we pick the captain," Nobes told Cricinfo. "It's a theory that's been used in Australian cricket for a long time.
"Unfortunately Nathan didn't make the team. We've been pleased with the way he's led South Australia, we're in better shape than we were at this time last year."
Nobes said it was possible the captaincy had proved an extra pressure on Adcock, who struggled to get a game early last season before averaging 46 in first-class matches by the end of the summer. "It may have, I don't know that but all I know is the second half of last year he played very, very well. It's disappointing that he hasn't made the runs he wanted to this season."
He admitted South Australia had some concerns about disrupting the team by changing their captain at a crucial point in the season, with the side bidding for a place in the Pura Cup final. "That's always an issue but at the end of the day we need to choose the best team to go on the field. We've done that and unfortunately Nathan's not in it so he can't be captain. It's so simple."
Nobes added that the news hadn't come as a surprise to Adcock. "He was aware that his position was under pressure, so he took it very, very well. He was disappointed and upset that he hadn't made runs and got the best out of himself in the Pura Cup so he was more disappointed with his own form than probably what I was telling him."
Eyebrows were raised when he was announced as captain in the off-season, given his struggle to nail a first team spot, and Nobes was reluctant to say when he thought he would return. "That's up to him about getting his form together and being ready to perform. We will give him opportunities to do that but it definitely goes back into his court to be able to perform.
"He still remains captain of our one-day side, because he still makes that team so it's nothing to do with anything other than form." In one-day cricket this season he averages 37.40 with the ball, at an economy of 6.23, and only 20.20 with the bat, whereas last year he was in the fifties. But he has overseen a handy run for South Australia in the FR Cup.
Whether Manou will also find the pressure of keeping, batting and captaining too much remains to be seen. His batting form has certainly picked up after he lost his position through most of last season, and he has made two of his three first-class centuries this summer.
"He seemed to handle [the captaincy] well last time, so he's had that experience of doing it," Nobes said. "If he hadn't done it before that may have been an issue but he actually handled it well last time he did it.
"Four years ago we gave him the job deputising for Darren Lehmann and we felt he did a good job back then. He's got his form back with the bat and his keeping is exemplary. I think he's a good leader and will do a good job."
South Australia Pura Cup squad Daniel Harris, Shane Deitz, Mark Cosgrove, Matthew Elliott, Callum Ferguson, Graham Manou (capt, wk), Dan Christian, Mark Cleary, Andy Delmont, Jason Gillespie, Dan Cullen, Ryan Harris, Paul Rofe.
Tasmania Pura Cup squad Michael Di Venuto, David Dawson, Travis Birt, George Bailey, Daniel Marsh (capt), Dane Anderson, Luke Butterworth, Tim Paine (wk), Jason Krejza, Brett Geeves, Chris Duval, Ben Hilfenhaus.
South Australia FR Cup squad Matthew Elliott, Dan Harris, Mark Cosgrove, Nathan Adcock (capt), Callum Ferguson, Dan Christian, Graham Manou (wk), Mark Cleary, Ryan Harris, Jason Gillespie, Dan Cullen, Paul Rofe.
Tasmania FR Cup squad TBC
Ford Ranger One Day Cup
Australia Domestic Season