Michael Clarke's captaincy call amid Tim Paine sexting scandal

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·Sports Reporter
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Michael Clarke (pictured right) during commentary and (pictured left) Pat Cummins during a press conference.
Former Test captain Michael Clarke (pictured right) has backed Pat Cummins (pictured left) as next team captain. (Getty Images)

Former Australian captain Michael Clarke has given bowler Pat Cummins a glowing endorsement to take the reins as captain after Tim Paine's resignation over a sexting scandal.

Paine's resignation as Test captain came amid revelations he was at the centre of a 2018 integrity unit investigation into alleged lewd texts with a female Cricket Tasmania colleague.

However, Paine said he wouldn't step down entirely and wished to be a part of the team and defend the Ashes urn on home soil.

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This has reignited the debate over who should take over as captain of the Test team.

And former captain Clarke hasn't let Cummins' inexperience as captain at state level deter him from backing him as the man to lead Australia into the Ashes.

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, the experience around Cummins would help him settle in quickly.

"If we were three or five years on it might be different," Clarke said on Sky Sports Radio.

"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."

There are many doubts over whether a bowler, with the workload of bowling and setting the field, could do the job adequately.

Clarke isn't worried and said it was Cummins' leadership and role in the team that makes him sure he will succeed as bowler-captain.

"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."

Steve Smith also in captain contention

Another name being mentioned alongside Cummins is former captain Steve Smith.

While Cummins appears to be the frontrunner, Cricket Australia chair Richard Freudenstein noted Smith will be considered amid a "very thorough but brief process" to appoint Australia's 47th Test skipper.

Smith, having served a two-year leadership ban imposed by CA in the aftermath of the Cape Town cheating scandal, declared in March he was open to returning to the pressure-laden post.

Yet the former skipper could be overlooked altogether by a governing body desperate to restore focus on the Ashes opener that begins December 8, rather than past sins.

Former captain Tim Paine (pictured left) and Pat Cummins (pictured second left) Steve Smith (pictured second right) and Marnus Labuschagne (pictured right) walking off the field.
Former captain Tim Paine (pictured left) and a number of candidates Pat Cummins (pictured second left) Steve Smith (pictured second right) and Marnus Labuschagne (pictured right) for Test captain. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

One counter-argument against Smith will be the look of appointing a captain that had a ban for two years, following Paine's resignation.

Former CA and International Cricket Council chief executive Malcolm Speed had his hesitations over appointing Smith.

"If they were to appoint Smith, as captain or vice-captain, I'd be asking the same question: 'If he wasn't fit for the captaincy back then, why is he suddenly fit now?'" he told AAP.

with AAP

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