Time for Cricket Australia to be bold Parallels with the past point to need for a clean break for the Baggy Greens
In his next four innings, the cavalier batsman made 0, 2, 0 and 0. He never played for Australia again. The following winter, he led a side to apartheid South Africa, taking with him the likes of Rodney Hogg, Terry Alderman and Carl Rackemann. Australia lost the Ashes series home and away, and the darkness lifted only once Allan Border — who replaced Hughes as captain — rebuilt with the help of new faces such as David Boon, Geoff Marsh, Dean Jones and Steve Waugh. A decade after hitting rock bottom, Australia won in the Caribbean to set exodus of sponsors that Cricket Australia will have to deal with.
Smith has been barred from leading Australia for two years. Warner will never captain the national side again. Shorn of 138 Test caps of experience, where do Australia look for a leader, someone who can do the salvage job Border took on so admirably in the 1980s? Tim Paine, who led from the front with a fighting 64 at The Wanderers despite having broken his thumb earlier in the game, is 33 and playing just his 13th Test. After seven operations on his index finger over the years, he nearly walked away from the game last year.
Former opener Simon Katich talked up Mitchell Marsh’s longterm chances after his heroics in the first Test in Durban. That was before Smith and Warner exited the stage. Now, as the selectors consider Marsh’s suitability for the role, they should also look to break the mold.
The last bowler to lead those in baggy green was the great Richie Benaud, who won 12 and lost only four of 28 matches. It would not be the worst idea to take a punt on Pat Cummins, whose superb pace bowling in all conditions is allied to sound batting technique and impressive poise. After the recent dark days, Cummins’ box-office appeal could bring forth the positive vibes Cricket Australia is so desperate for.