Labuschagne surprised by ODI captain call

Marnus Labuschagne admits he was surprised fellow batting star Steve Smith was snubbed as Australia's fill-in ODI captain in favour of Josh Hazlewood.

Pat Cummins sat out Saturday's win against England after just one game as Australia's 50-over skipper following long-term captain Aaron Finch's retirement from the format.

But instead of Smith stepping back into the role, Hazlewood was the preferred option to lead at the SCG, becoming Australia's 28th ODI captain.

Labuschagne said the decision initially caught him off guard but said Australia wanted to be a team with a number of leaders.

"It was probably a little bit of a surprise but I think as a squad and as a group, we're trying to make sure that we're not just kind of becoming a team that can be focused on one specific person to captain," the Queenslander said at the MCG on Monday.

"Josh and Steve are great leaders and Steve's got a wealth of captaincy experience.

"Obviously the thought was to give to give Josh an opportunity in that leadership space where he hasn't had much opportunity prior to that."

Smith was appointed Australia's Test vice-captain when Cummins accepted the top job last November after Tim Paine was forced to resign.

It took just weeks for the 33-year-old to be back as captain, with Smith leading Australia in the second Test of last year's Ashes when Cummins was ruled out of the Adelaide match due to COVID protocols.

That Test against England marked Smith's first game as captain since the infamous ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in 2018.

Confusion around the captaincy aside, Smith is hitting peak form ahead of the Test summer.

After hitting an unbeaten 80 last Thursday, Smith backed it up with 94 two days later.

Labuschagne (58) and Smith combined for a crucial 101-run stand in a good sign for Australia ahead of two Tests against the West Indies and a three-match battle with South Africa.

Smith declared on Friday his knock in Adelaide was the best he has felt at the crease in six years.

"For him, it was a feel thing and he felt like his grip was right," Labsuchagne said.

"His momentum into the ball, he was a bit more side-on, so all that came together and I think that's what gives him the confidence."

Australia will take an unassailable 2-0 lead into the final game of the ODI series against England at the MCG on Tuesday.