Australian Test captain Tim Paine has backed Marnus Labuschagne as one fit to take over from him, even as former captains Ian Chappell and Michael Clarke have backed Pat Cummins for the top leadership position.
“I think he would be a good [leader]. Marnus is a great thinker of the game. He is a good team man, he has got so much enthusiasm for his team and the game,” Paine was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au
“With Marnus it is about him evolving into leading more, and being more of a leader. He has come into our group and been a really infectious, energetic guy, which has been fantastic for our team. But I think in terms of our cricket team improving and Marnus evolving, I think in the next couple of years we will definitely see him take the step up,” added Paine who, at the age of 36, is on the last legs of his Test career.
Paine’s age as well as Australia’s losses in back-to-back Test series against India at home has led to a debate over the Tasmanian’s ability to continue as an inspirational captain for long.
While there were talks that Steve Smith, from whom Paine took over after the ball-tampering scandal, will take over, many former cricketers have backed Cummins.
Cummins, the world No.1 Test bowler on ICC rankings, though is a pace bowler and that seems to be the only thing going against him. In Australian cricket, generally batsmen are handed the mantle of captaincy.
“He has got leadership in him, there is no doubt about that – the way he goes about it, the way he treats people, the way he works on his game with some time [he] will become an excellent leader for this squad,” said Paine of Labuschagne, who has played 18 Tests in over two years.
“He has got some real natural leadership ability and if that is harnessed and helped, I think he will be a great captain.”
The 26-year-old South Africa-born batsman also has the backing of former Australia captain and batsman Ricky Ponting.
“[He] will come into the conversation in 12-18 months’ time, once he’s properly established himself in the team,” Ponting has said. “He seems like the right sort of guy to maybe be a captain down the track at some point.”