Shane Warne rips Cricket Australia as new Test captains revealed

Steve Smith and Pat Cummins, pictured here during the previous Ashes series in 2019.
Shane Warne has criticised the decision to make Steve Smith the vice-captain under Pat Cummins. Image: Getty

Shane Warne has hit out at Cricket Australia over the decision to hand Steve Smith the vice-captaincy after the 2018 ball tampering scandal.

Pat Cummins has won the race to be Australia's new Test captain after Tim Paine stepped down and subsequently stepped away from cricket over the sexting scandal.

Cricket Australia confirmed Cummins as Australia's 47th Test captain on Friday afternoon, with Smith elevated to the vice-captaincy.

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It marks a significant return to a position of leadership for Smith for the first time since the infamous Cape Town ball-tampering scandal.

Smith was stripped of the captaincy and banned 12 months for his role in the sandpaper scandal, while then vice-captain David Warner was also suspended 12 months and banned from holding a leadership position for the rest of his career.

The fact that Cricket Australia could allow Smith to return to a leadership role has left Warne gobsmacked.

“We all love Steve Smith and are proud that he’s the best Test batsmen in the world again,” Warne wrote for the Herald Sun.

“But he should not be the Australia vice-captain.

“Everyone makes mistakes, we know that and we’ve all moved on from sandpaper-gate. But what happened under Steve Smith’s captaincy, he allowed that to happen on his watch.

“I think the punishment he was given was way too severe, which I said at the time. He paid a huge price for his mistake.

“But his second chance is getting to play for Australia again and in my opinion announcing him as vice-captain opens up CA for ridicule and criticism, and they should throw the code of conduct out the window.”

Warne added that Warner has “the best cricket brain in the team” and said he believes Marnus Labuschagne should be the vice-captain.

While Warner was widely regarded as the 'architect' of the ball tampering plan and advised rookie teammate Cameron Bancroft to use the sandpaper, Smith was banned simply because it happened while he was captain and should have put a stop to it.

Smith later revealed he saw Warner and Bancroft discussing something in the changerooms, but turned a blind eye and said "I don't want to know about it."

Steve Smith and Pat Cummins, pictured here in action for Australia.
Steve Smith and Pat Cummins are Australia's new Test leaders. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Pat Cummins wins race for Test captaincy

Cricket Australia officials met on Thursday night to finalise their search for a new captain, with Cummins winning out.

Cummins' appointment makes him the country's 47th men's Test captain, and the first fast bowler to be handed the position on a full-time basis.

Once so injury plagued that he went almost 2000 days between his first and second Tests, Cummins has not missed a red-ball game for Australia since October 2018.

That fitness is key in his appointment, given the need for stability after the tumultuous end to Paine's reign less than three weeks out from the Ashes.

Cummins is just the second full-time captain in the past 45 years after Michael Clarke to have not captained his state in first-class cricket previously.

Pat Cummins, pictured here in action for Australia against India in 2020.
Pat Cummins in action for Australia against India in 2020. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

But the significant number of senior players around him, along with his brief experience captaining NSW in one-day cricket last summer, was seen as an advantage.

"I am honoured to accept this role ahead of what will be a massive Ashes summer," Cummins said in a statement.

"I hope I can provide the same leadership Tim has given the group in the past few years.

"With Steve and I as captains, a number of very senior players in this squad and some great young talent coming through we are a strong and tightly knit group.

"This is an unexpected privilege which I am very grateful for and am very much looking forward to."

The new captain's first task will be retaining the Ashes on home soil this summer, before leading Australia's first tour to Pakistan in more than 23 years next March.

Australia have not won a Test series in Asia since 2011.

with AAP

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