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Australia batsman Steven Smith has been appointed as the country’s stand-in captain for the remainder of the Test series against India.
The move comes after regular skipper Michael Clarke was ruled out for the rest of the series after he tore his hamstring and injured his back during the first Test in Adelaide.
“As a captain first and foremost I’ll try to lead from the front with my performance on the field, and with regards to tactics I think we’ve been pretty good this year,” Smith said in Brisbane. “Pup’s been amazing with what he’s done and the group we’ve got at the moment going forward. I don’t think there’s any real need for a big change there.”
National selector Rod Marsh added: “These are difficult circumstances given Michael’s injury and the fact that we don’t know how long he will be out of the game. What we do know is that it won’t be an overnight fix so after a lot of thought we have taken the opportunity to appoint an emerging young leader as captain until such time as Michael regains fitness and returns to the side.
“We congratulate Steve on the wonderful honour of leading his country. On Wednesday he will become Australia’s 45th Test captain and at the age of 25 will become one of our youngest leaders. He is an exceptional young man who is highly regarded by the National Selection Panel not only for his fine performances with the bat but also his maturity and clear leadership potential.
“Brad Haddin has done an exceptional job as vice-captain since assuming the role last year and will provide strong support to Steve just as he has done for Michael. There was a strong argument for Brad to assume the captaincy until Michael returns, but given we don’t know how long that will be, we felt the time was right to take a longer-term view and give a young player this chance.”
Cricket Australia chairman Wally Edwards also noted that Brad Haddin will retain his position as vice-captain, even though he led the Baggy Greens on the final day of the first Test.
“The board fully endorsed the recommendation put forward by the selectors,” Edwards said. “Steve is an impressive young leader who deserves high praise for his temperament and on-field performances to date. We believe he will do an excellent job when given the chance to captain his country against India.”
Since no one has any idea how long Clarke will be out of action for, Mark Waugh, who is another selector, stated that the selection committee had to pick a candidate who could lead Australia in the long run.
“Brad Haddin would have done an excellent job as well, he did a great job captaining the side on the last day in Adelaide,” Waugh told Fox Sports. “But Brad’s getting towards the end of his career, he’s said he probably wants to go if his form’s good enough to the Ashes next August, so taking all that into account, the fact Brad’s probably not going to be there beyond that, common sense says it’s a good time to blood someone a bit younger who’s going to be around for the next 10 or so years.
“That’s the reasoning behind it, Brad will contribute greatly as he always does in the vice-captain role when Steve captains. He’s a very important member of the side, he’s well respected and I’m sure he’ll be a great person to lean on for Steve Smith over the next few matches.
“I have no idea about Michael Clarke’s fitness and I don’t think anyone can really, clearly state how long Michael’s going to be out. Hopefully it’s not for long, but we’ve seen in the past few months he’s had a lot of problems with his back and his hamstrings. Steve is captain until Michael comes back and who knows when that will be.”
It has also been revealed that Smith will be the third-youngest man to captain Australia in Test cricket behind Ian Craig and Kim Hughes.