Cricket : Smith named Australia’s stand-in captain

Cricket : Smith named Australia’s stand-in captain

Cricket : Smith named Australia’s stand-in captain

Written by Staff Writer

15 Dec, 2014 | 9:43 am

Steven Smith will become Australia’s 45th Test captain after being confirmed to replace Michael Clarke as leader for the remainder of the series against India. Smith has officially taken over the Test vice-captaincy from Brad Haddin as Australia’s selectors sought a more long-term solution than temporarily handing control to the 37-year-old Haddin.

“As a captain first and foremost I’ll try to lead from the front with my performance on the filed, and with regards to tactics I think we’ve been pretty good this year,” Smith said in Brisbane. “Pup’s been amazing with what he’s done and the group we’ve got at the moment going forward. I don’t think there’s any real need for a big change there.

“I’m extremely excited and looking forward to training with the boys the next two days and then getting out there on Wednesday. I’ve had a bit of leadership experience with New South Wales and the Sydney Sixers, I know at the Sixers I had some older heads there with Brett Lee and Stuart MacGill, and to lead those guys it was a big thrill.

“I know coming out here our senior guys will support me 100% and Brad Haddin who I’m very close with as vice-captain will be right behind me.”

Smith, 25, had widely been tipped as the next full-time captain after Clarke but had not previously been groomed in an official capacity in the same way Clarke had been as vice-captain under Ricky Ponting. However, the uncertainty surrounding Clarke’s fitness given his ongoing hamstring and back problems prompted a rethink from the selectors.

“These are difficult circumstances given Michael’s injury and the fact that we don’t know how long he will be out of the game,” national selector Rod Marsh said. “What we do know is that it won’t be an overnight fix so after a lot of thought we have taken the opportunity to appoint an emerging young leader as captain until such time as Michael regains fitness and returns to the side.

“We congratulate Steve on the wonderful honour of leading his country. On Wednesday he will become Australia’s 45th Test captain and at the age of 25 will become one of our youngest leaders. He is an exceptional young man who is highly regarded by the National Selection Panel not only for his fine performances with the bat but also his maturity and clear leadership potential.

“Brad Haddin has done an exceptional job as vice-captain since assuming the role last year and will provide strong support to Steve just as he has done for Michael. There was a strong argument for Brad to assume the captaincy until Michael returns, but given we don’t know how long that will be, we felt the time was right to take a longer-term view and give a young player this chance.”

Haddin, who led the side on the final day of the Adelaide Test while Clarke was off the field due to his injured right hamstring, will serve as Smith’s deputy for the Brisbane Test, which starts on Wednesday. The changes were recommended by the selectors and endorsed by Cricket Australia’s board on Sunday night.

“The board fully endorsed the recommendation put forward by the selectors,” Wally Edwards, the CA chairman, said. “Steve is an impressive young leader who deserves high praise for his temperament and on-field performances to date. We believe he will do an excellent job when given the chance to captain his country against India.”

Smith will become the third-youngest man to captain Australia in Test cricket, behind Ian Craig and Kim Hughes. Clarke has already said that he will need to consider his future given the recurring nature of his hamstring and back injuries, and it raises the possibility that Smith could effectively be stepping into the role on a full-time basis.

Although he has not been groomed in the way Clarke was, he has captained Australia A and New South Wales in recent years and captained the Sydney Sixers for the first time at the age of 22 – Haddin serving as his deputy. With both the Sixers and the Blues, Smith has led trophy-winning teams: the inaugural BBL title in 2012 and the Shield earlier this year.

Smith is regarded as having a natural cricket brain, and has also added notably to his skills off the field in recent times. His confidence as a media speaker has grown, while senior CA figures have also been impressed by the stability he has attained in life through a long-term relationship with his girlfriend Danielle Willis.

“The on-field stuff, setting fields, changing bowlers, that’s the easy part. It’s making sure all your players are on the same page with what your plans are and what you want from your players and the team. That’s the biggest challenge and what you really need to get right if you want your team to be successful.”

First chosen for Australia’s Test team in 2010 as a leg spin bowler who batted at No. 8, Smith has grown in confidence and application as a batsman since those early appearances, grooving his technique and gaining confidence by scoring runs in all conditions.

His development was noticed by Chris Rogers in 2012, and since his recall to the Test team in India in 2013, Smith has crafted five hundreds and lifted his batting average to 46.02. In Adelaide he notched his highest Test score, 162 not out.

Source  : Cricinfo

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