While the pair had been the favorites to take on their respective roles after a dramatic week that likely put an end to Tim Paine’s test career, Cummins made it almost irreplaceable that Smith would be his lieutenant, even as Australia enters an unknown era of have a fast bowler in the lead.
Following the appointment, Cummins made it clear that he does not intend to rest himself from tests – he may have to scale down his commitments in other formats – but Smith is now an injury away from being captain of Australia again three and a half years after the ball manipulation scandal in South Africa. Although he is not officially in charge, he is likely to have a much more active role than former deputies.
“I think there are a few more unknowns about having a bowling captain, and that’s why I was determined from the start whether I was the captain, to have someone like Steve as the vice captain next door. me, “Cummins said. “I feel like I have a lot of experience to draw on. Many of the problems or potential issues surrounding being a fast bowling captain I’m sure we’ll be able to solve.
“Obviously it’s not our decision who is the captain and vice-captain. I made it pretty clear that if I got the captaincy, that’s how I saw the team run and I also tried to take Steve with me. He’s so central to how I see my captaincy style but [also] how I see the team working. “
Smith admitted that his return to a leadership role may not be universally accepted. “I think there will be some negativity from some people about it,” he said. “I understand that, and I understand that. But for me, I know that I’ve grown a lot over the last three or four years. I’m a more rounded individual, and in return, I think it’s made me a better leader. “
The pair are part of the group of Australian players still in quarantine on the Gold Coast after the T20 World Cup – something that Cummins suggested may have proved useful during the recent upheaval – and they both discussed the direction they could take the team in, before being interviewed by the CA panel earlier this week.
Now that it’s official, they will start working on the finer points of the partnership ahead of the start of Ashes on December 8, and Cummins indicated that there may be occasions where he relinquishes to Smith in the field.
“There will be times when I’m out in the middle, it’s a hot day, I’m in the middle of a period, and I have to turn to people for advice, tactics, experience, and that’s the main reason, one of the big reasons I wanted Steve to be vice-captain “
“There will be times when I’m out in the middle, it’s a hot day, I’m in the middle of a period, and I have to turn to people for advice, tactics, experience, and that’s the main reason, one of the big reasons I wanted Steve to be vice captain, “Cummins said. “What does it look like? I think it could potentially look different [how] you’ve seen partnerships work in the past. I think it will stay pretty fluid.
“A 22-degree day can look different than a 40-degree day. There will be times on the court where I throw to Steve and you will see Steve move fielders around, maybe make bowling shifts, take a little more of an elevated vice captain role. , and that’s what I really want.
“That’s what I’ve asked and I’m really glad Steve’s happy with it too. We’ll tell you exactly how it works, but it’s going to be a real collaborative approach. Steve’s got so much strength, especially in terms of tactically on the field. “
For his part, Smith will go where his captain asks, but he hopes his 34 tests of experience at the helm can complement the new approach that Cummins will bring.
“I’m completely controlled by Patrick and whatever he needs on the field,” he said. “If there are times when Patrick reaches out to me and wants me to take over and do some different things out on the field, I’m there for that. My job is to support Patrick as much as I can.”
Andrew McGlashan is the Vice Editor of ESPNcricinfo