Ian Healy's staggering call for Pat Cummins to give up Test captaincy

The Aussie cricket great has made a startling call on the Test skipper.

Ian Healy, pictured here alongside Pat Cummins.
Ian Healy thinks Pat Cummins' bowling would benefit from giving up the Test captaincy. Image: Getty

Aussie cricket legend Ian Healy has made the bombshell call that he believes Pat Cummins should stand down from the Test captaincy. Cummins revealed the sad news on Thursday that he won't be returning to India for the third Test because his mother is seriously ill and in palliative care.

Steve Smith will captain the side in Cummins' absence, with no guarantees the skipper will be back in time for the fourth and final Test of the series. "I have decided against returning to India at this time as my mother is ill and in palliative care," Cummins said. "I feel I am best being here with my family.

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"I appreciate the overwhelming support I have received from Cricket Australia and my teammates. Thanks for your understanding."

Speaking before the news about Cummins' mother came to light, former Test wicket-keeper Healy said he believes the Aussie skipper should step down as captain for the betterment of his bowling and long-term future. Cummins had little experience as a captain before he was thrust into the role before the 2021/22 Ashes series after Tim Paine was forced to step down due to the sexting scandal.

Cummins' captaincy has been called into question a number of times during the series in India, with Mark Waugh and Michael Clarke both questioning some of his field placements and bowling changes. Speaking on SEN radio this week, Healy expressed his fears that Cummins' bowling would suffer as a result of the 'burden' of being captain.

“I don’t want him carrying the burden of so much captaincy for too long,” Healy said. “I want him to finish (as just a bowler)."

“The captaincy creates a burnout and four to five years is a long time as a captain. He’s done a few years already, now he’s adding (short-form captaincy) to his thought processes at a time when he’s dealing with some sort of family illness back home. So yeah, I would like to see him finish his career as a tearaway fast bowler and someone else with the captaincy burden.”

Pat Cummins, pictured here speaking with Rohit Sharma before the second Test in India.
Pat Cummins speaks with Rohit Sharma before the second Test in India. (Photo by Pankaj Nangia/Getty Images)

Healy said he believes Travis Head would make a good Test captain, but was unsure if there were any other potential skippers waiting in the wings. Smith will captain the side in the third Test in Indore, but the 33-year-old recently confessed he didn't know how much longer he wanted to play the longest form of the game.

“I think Travis Head is quite capable. He’s led South Australia since he was a 21-year-old, he’s quite capable and has got a lot of experience,” said Healy.

“He’s the main one that stands out to me. The likes of Glenn Maxwell might be able to do parts of it (in the short form), but as far as longer-term captaincy prospects other than Travis Head, I can’t think (of any).”

Geoff Lawson highlights issue with Pat Cummins' captaincy

Earlier this week, fellow Aussie great Geoff Lawson highlighted the fact that Cummins is still learning the intricacies of being a captain due to a lack of experience leading sides in domestic cricket. “Cummo has so little experience captaining on spinning wickets, in the contemporary game your captain plays very little Sheffield Shield, and he certainly doesn’t play on spinning wickets,” Lawson said on SEN.

“So where does he learn to do all the creative and adaptable things you need to do? He doesn’t, he just gets thrown in the deep end and we watch a lot of videos and make decisions. When Axar Patel (is) having a partnership with (Ravi) Ashwin, we’re not sure how we are going about breaking them down, those couple of partnerships have cost us two Test matches.”

The third Test will mark the third time Smith has deputised as captain in Cummins' absence. Cummins was ruled out of the day-night Test against England in Adelaide in 2021 due to being a close contact of a Covid case, before missing the same fixture against the West Indies last year due to injury.

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