Australia’s newly-appointed Test captain Pat Cummins has revealed that he was determined to have Steve Smith as the team's vice-captain. Smith captained the national side across formats from 2015 to 2018, before being banned from leadership role post the 2018 Cape Town ball-tampering scandal.
Pat Cummins replaced Tim Paine as Australia's Test captain, as officially announced on Friday, after the former had stepped down from the role and later decided to take an indefinite break from the game. Paine's decision came after the emergence of the 2017 texting episode, when had sent some lewd and graphically explicit texts to a female co-worker during his time at Tasmania. He was cleared off the charges by the integrity investigation unit next year.
Cummins, who now takes over the captaincy ahead of the all important Ashes series, which begins December 8 in Brisbane, revealed that he was always keen to have Steve Smith as his deputy.
"I think there's a couple of more unknowns about having a bowling captain and that's why from the outset I was absolutely determined if I was captain to have someone like Steve as vice-captain next to me. I feel like I've got quite a lot of experience to draw on. A lot of the problems or potential issues around being a fast-bowling captain I'm sure we'll be able to work through," Cummins said.
"Obviously, it's not our decision who is captain and vice-captain. I made it pretty clear that if I was given the captaincy that this is how I saw the team running and I tried to bring Steve along for that as well. He's so central to how I see my captaincy style but [also] how I see the team functioning."
Cummins reflected how Smith would be helpful with the tactics through and through, given his experience.
"There's going to be times where I'm out in the middle, it's a hot day, I'm in the middle of a spell and I need to turn to people for advice, for tactics, for experience and that's the main reason, one of the big reasons why I wanted Steve to be vice-captain," said the top-ranked Test bowler.
"How that looks? I think it potentially could look differently to [how] you've seen partnerships work in the past. I think that will remain pretty fluid.
"A 22-degree day might look differently to a 40-degree day. There will be times on the field where I'll throw to Steve and you'll see Steve move fielders around, maybe doing bowling changes, taking a bit more of an elevated vice-captaincy role and that's what I really want.
"That's what I've asked and I'm really glad Steve is happy with that as well. We'll nut out exactly how that works, but it's going to be a real collaborative approach. Steve has got such huge strength especially around tactically out on the field."
On the other hand, Smith, who returns to the national team's leadership role after more than three years, realises that his appointment as the vice-captain would be taken in a negative manner by some, with memories of the 2018 ball-tampering episode.
"I think there will be some negativity from some people about it," Smith said. "I understand that and I get that. But for me, I know that I've grown a great deal over the last three or four years. I'm a more rounded individual and in turn I think it's turned me into a better leader.
"I'm completely guided by Patrick and whatever he needs on the field. If there's times when Patrick hands 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."