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Cummins favoured for landmark captaincy

Pat Cummins is favoured to become the first fast bowler to assume the full-time captaincy of Australia’s Test team after Tim Paine’s shock resignation.

Paine’s bombshell just 20 days before the Ashes has prompted a rushed search for a new leader matched only by his own appointment three years ago

The lack of time before such an important series is likely to work in vice-captain Cummins’ favour.

Former skipper Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne shape as the other options.

It’s thought Smith’s history with the ball-tampering scandal could prove too hard to overcome in a time of crisis, having completed a two-year leadership ban last year.

Labuschagne revealed his captaincy ambitions just this week and has previously had the backing of Paine and Ricky Ponting, but is yet to lead his state and has played only 18 Tests.

David Warner is the only other experienced member of Australia’s batting order, but he still has a permanent ban on leadership for his role in the 2018 Cape Town ball-tampering.

Which leaves the widely-respected Cummins as the most likely man selectors will recommend to the Cricket Australia board to be the nation’s 47th men’s Test captain.

Cummins already has support from within the playing group, with Travis Head the first man to back him in on Friday.

Head and Cummins previously shared the deputy role, before Cummins took over as sole vice-captain at the start of last summer.

Head only learned of Paine’s lewd-text situation as he fronted the media in Adelaide for a previously-organised media conference, but he backed Cummins to take over whenever an opening developed.

“It’s hard to go past (Cummins) at the moment or not give him the opportunity to (lead), Head said.

“He is someone who oozes leadership, not only in the way he presents himself, the way he speaks, the way he goes about things, the way he trains but also when he’s on the field.

“No matter, the conditions, the weather, the situation or game he gives 120 per cent every time. Everyone sees that in Australian cricket.

“The way he is off the field is unbelievable. He’s well rounded.

“If he does get his opportunity, which I’m sure he will in the future, whatever that may be. I think he will do a fantastic job.”

If Cummins was to be appointed captain, he would become the first quick to hold the role in any Test since Ray Lindwall filled in for Ian Johnson in India in 1956.

None, however, have held the role in a full-time capacity before, with that role previously only reserved for batsmen, wicketkeepers and on the odd occasion spinners.

But even then, Richie Benaud is the last bowler to have led Australia, making one of the country’s finest Test captains before he retired in 1964.

Setting such a precedent is known not to concern Australia’s selectors.

A former quick himself, Tony Dodemaide declared he’d be happy for a bowler to lead when he gave his first interview as a selector last month.

Cummins has also previously indicated he believed he could juggle the responsibilities, viewing last year’s time in charge of NSW in one-day cricket earlier this year as an audition.

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