Cricket Australia captain's call imminent

Pat Cummins has the qualities required to skipper Australia, says NSW coach Phil Jacques.
Pat Cummins has the qualities required to skipper Australia, says NSW coach Phil Jacques.

A new-look leadership team of Pat Cummins and Steve Smith is expected to be locked in within coming days as Cricket Australia prepare to appoint its next men's Test captain.

A five-person panel, including Cricket Australia (CA) interim chairman Richard Freudenstein and chief executive Nick Hockley, has scrutinised candidates for the top job.

The rubber stamp of CA's board, the final chapter of a process ignited by Tim Paine's tearful resignation last week, is likely to come on Friday or Saturday.

Cummins, Australia's sole vice-captain, has loomed as the frontrunner since Paine stepped down.

But the panel has also weighed up whether former skipper Smith is ready to return to the pressure-laden role he was stripped of as part of CA sanctions emanating from the sandpaper scandal.

If Smith is appointed Cummins' deputy it will mean he is one niggle away from donning the blazer again.

Snubbing Smith from both leadership roles would be an almighty setback to the superstar, who declared earlier this year he would be keen to captain Australia again.

It would also inflame relations with the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA), who rallied against Smith's two-year leadership ban and the lifetime leadership suspension meted out to David Warner.

The on-field leadership dynamic and optics between Cummins and Smith will be fascinating, with the latter heavily scrutinised since the Cape Town cheating saga.

Nathan Lyon has played 34 of 100 Tests under Smith's captaincy, while he was part of the NSW one-day side that Cummins captained at the start of this year.

Lyon, the most experienced member of the Test XI, believes the pair will have a "really positive effect" and work well together as leaders.

"The guys who are going to be captain and vice-captain, whichever way that goes, I think they're both extremely well respected within Australian cricket and world cricket," Lyon said.

"It's going to be a real beneficial having a bowler's mindset and a batter's mindset. Rather than having two batters.

"There's going to be some really good, open and honest conversations between those two and there's going to be some really good guidance."

Cummins would be the first fast bowler to lead the side since Ray Lindwall in 1956, prompting questions as to whether he could juggle the additional responsibility.

"I'm really excited by the fact that we're potentially going to have a bowler as captain," Lyon said.

"But in saying that, we've also got one of the best players to play the game in Smithy up there ... he's got a great cricket mind."

NSW coach Phil Jaques installed Cummins as one-day captain, giving the paceman a chance to experience managing fields and bowling changes alongside his own overs.

Cummins missed the final because of IPL duty but helped the Blues surge to a one-day title.

"He learned on the run ... he did a fantastic job," Jaques said.

"He utilised the people around him really really well, kept the guys really relaxed and really confident."

Australian Associated Press