Pat Cummins says the Australian Test captaincy will look different to anything that’s come before as he plans to implement a “fluid” leadership system with Steve Smith this summer.
Fronting the media on the day he became Australia’s 47th Test captain, Cummins acknowledged that being a fast bowler will force him to heavily lean on his vice-captain in a way Tim Paine, Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting didn’t need to.
As such, Cummins revealed that he pushed hard to have Smith named as his deputy, while the pair will form a non-traditional leadership combination.
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Instead of ruling with an iron fist, Cummins said he will go as far as regularly handballing captaincy duties off to Smith while he’s still on the field.
“There’s a couple more unknowns about having a bowling captain and that’s why I think from the outset I was absolutely determined to have somebody like Steve as vice next to me,” Cummins told reporters.
“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, I need to turn to people for advice for tactics, for experience. That’s the main reason why I wanted Steve to be vice-captain.”
Cummins became Australia’s first fast-bowling Test captain since 1956 after Paine resigned from the post following revelations of a 2017 sexting scandal with a co-worker.
The 28-year-old had been Paine’s deputy for years but has limited captaincy experience outside of a handful of One-Day Cup games for New South Wales last season.
He plans to adopt a “collaborative approach” with Smith, who is taking his first official Australia leadership role since he was dumped as captain after the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal in 2018.
As for how the collaboration looks, Cummins said: “It potentially could look differently to how you’ve seen partnerships work in the past.
“There’ll be times in the field where I’ll throw to Steve and you’ll see Steve moving fielders around, maybe doing bowling changes, taking a bit more of an elevated vice captaincy role.
“That’s what I really want, that’s what I’ve asked and I’m really glad Steve’s happy with that as well. We’ll nut out exactly how that works, it’s going to be a real collaborative approach.”
Smith said he’s “truly honoured” to return to an official captaincy role after more than three years in the leadership wilderness.
He assured that the team’s captaincy waters won’t be muddied by his partnership with Cummins, saying that the fast bowler ultimately has control over the team.
“I’m completely guided by Patrick and whatever he needs out on the field,” Smith said “That’s my job and there’ll be times where Patrick hands to me and wants me to take over and do some different things out on the field. I’m there for that.”
Cummins added: “I think that’ll remain pretty fluid. We’ll work through that.
“A 22-degree day might look differently to a 40-degree day, so we’ll work through that. I’m totally comfortable.”
Cummins lauded Smith’s tactical nous, which he said he’ll be “heavily leaning” on him for.
“It might look a bit different from the outside to captains in the past, and that’s great,” he said.
The Ashes-winner also said he doesn’t plan on telling his players how to do their jobs, but rather wants to give them freedom to perform their duties.