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Michael Clarke says time is right for captain Cummins

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Michael Clarke has declared the time is right for Pat Cummins to join him as Australia’s least-experienced Test captain in 45 years, with so many senior players around him.

Cummins remains the favourite to take over the reins of the Australian Test team heading into the Ashes series, following Tim Paine’s shock resignation on Friday.

Cricket Australia is yet to set a timeline for the announcement.

If Cummins is made captain, he will join Clarke as the only men since Greg Chappell to be named as full-time captain without having first led their state in Sheffield Shield.

But while Clarke admitted that would be a hard ask starting in an Ashes series, he reasoned it would be made easier by having a good number of vastly-experienced players around him.

“If we were three or five years on it might be different,” Clarke said on the Big Sports Breakfast. 

“But with so much seniority in the team, I think it is the right time for him. Because they can help him. 

“Steve Smith, David Warner, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood. These guys have played a truckload of Test cricket. 

“They can be there to help him, with or without the C or VC next to his name.”

Clarke had the likes Shane Watson, Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin and former skipper Ricky Ponting in his team in the early days of his leadership.

The former skipper has long been one of the biggest proponents of Cummins’ potential rise to the top, first labelling him the next captain in 2018.

That comes despite the challenge of being the first fast bowler to captain Australia in more than one Test.

“You have to allow him time to get into this job. Because he hasn’t had 10 years of captain first-grade or state cricket,” Clarke said.

“But sometimes you can see certain things in people, and I think he’s got it.

“He reads the game. He’s a cricket captain. Looking at on the field tactics. The way he talks to his players. The way he sets the field when he bowls.”

Meanwhile Australia’s call around the vice-captaincy shapes as one of the most important deputy calls in memory.

Selectors indicated last week that bowlers could be rested and rotated this summer, leaving the possibility that Cummins could miss a Test.

If he was to, it would mean a potential return to the top job for Steve Smith if he is named as deputy, otherwise Marnus Labuschagne looms as the other likely option.

Labuschagne has also never captained his state, Queensland, while Smith has extensive experience and his two-year leadership ban is over.

AAP

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