Australian wicketkeeper and batsman Tim Paine has shocked the cricketing world by stepping down as Australia's Test captain. Paine's decision has come after an off-field scandal emerged, where he sent explicit texts to a female colleague at Cricket Tasmania in 2017.
It has shaken Australian Cricket as the Aussies are gearing up for a home Ashes series. Australia will need to find a replacement quickly as the Ashes are less than a month away. Here we take a look at the possible replacements for Paine.
The current Vice-Captain and the world's number 1 test bowler will be the prime candidate to replace Paine. He's the leader of the bowling attack and has been Australia's best bowler in Tests in the last four years. Although he was injury-prone in the early days of his career, he has been largely fit in recent years and hasn't missed a lot of matches through injury. This will play to Cummins's advantage.
But a bowler hasn't captained Australia since Richie Benaud in 1964. There will be concerns over his workload as he would have to manage the rigours of fast bowling and the pressures of leading Australia at the same time.
The most important issue is his lack of experience in leading a team. He hasn't yet captained Australia or New South Wales or any other franchise. It would be a brave call to hand the Australian captaincy to a player who has no experience in it.
The former Australian captain Steve Smith is another option for Australia. Smith was handed a 2-year captaincy ban for his involvement in the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal. With the 2-year ban completed, he is allowed to lead the team again.
He has the right mentality and the experience to lead Australia again. Smith actually performs well as captain. In the 34 tests that he had led Australia, he scored 3659 runs at 70.36, with 15 centuries.
But will the selectors opt for him after Cape Town is a huge question mark? They will have to consider the reactions of the fans, media and former players. Will the extra pressure of captaincy affect his batting. We saw how he performed in the 2019 Ashes series in England when he didn't have the burden of captaincy.
But Smith has stated that he would like to captain Australia again. “I’ve certainly had a lot of time to think about it and I guess now I’ve got to a point where if the opportunity did come up again I would be keen,” Smith said.
"If it was what Cricket Australia wanted and it was what was best for the team at the time, it’s certainly something I would be interested in now, that’s for sure."
“I’m always going to have to live with Cape Town regardless of whether I lead again or not. It’s always there.”
If Australia is looking for a long-term option, then Marnus Labuschagne would be the obvious choice. He is just 27 years old and has at least 10 years of cricket left in him. He has already cemented his place in the side at No.3 and is a sure pick every game.
But his maturity and the ability to manage senior players are still unknown. But Smith was made captain at 26 years of age, so don't rule out Labuschagne just yet.
There aren't any other good options for Australia as David Warner is banned from captaincy. Head, Cameroon Green and Marcus Harris haven't yet cemented their places. They wouldn't want to burden the bowlers with the captaincy. So the selectors have a decision to make.