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Australia all-rounder Mitchell Marsh and pace bowler Josh Hazlewood have both been named Test vice-captains.
Australia have been on the hunt for a second-in-command since David Warner was stripped of the position following the ball tampering scandal during the Baggy Greens’ tour of South Africa in March.
Marsh and Hazlewood’s names were recommended by their teammates, and the duo subsequently made leadership presentations to a seven-person panel, which comprised of selector Greg Chappell, board director Mark Taylor, Australia head coach Justin Langer, Cricket Australia chairman David Peever, selection committee chairman Trevor Hohns, team psychologist Michael Lloyd and team performance manager Pat Howard.
“Justin Langer and Tim Paine have a clear vision for the Test team, and Josh and Mitch are invested and ready to support the coach and captain on this journey,” Hohns was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. “And this was a fundamental part of the process. It was not a process designed to find the next Australian Test captain, but to find two vice-captains who will support and help drive the team’s goals and objectives.
“Josh and Mitch display great leadership qualities, and we were extremely impressed by their passion and energy to help guide Australian cricket into this exciting new era. Our vision is to create great cricketers and great people, and we are extremely fortunate to have such terrific young men charged with responsibility of upholding the high standards and values we and Australian cricket fans expect of their Test team.
“Josh has shown he is a leader among the playing group, and we felt it was important to have a representative from the bowling group. He’s calm under pressure, communicates well, and leads by example on and off the field. Mitch has successfully captained Australia A, Australia U19 and Western Australia. He is an extremely popular member of the team, he has great humility, and given his lineage, he understands and respects the responsibility which comes with representing Australia and Australians.”
Hohns also revealed that Langer has learnt a lot about leadership from other sports, especially from the AFL, where he is a board director for the West Coast Eagles.
“It is a successful model used across various sporting codes around the world, and we see it benefiting the group, not just from a tactical perspective, but also to help drive the team’s values and standards on and off the field,” Hohns said.
“We also feel the new model provides great balance. There is strong and even representation of both the batting and bowling groups, which is important when making decisions which are in the best interest of the team. The demands on the modern cricketer were also factors we took into account, including the amount of cricket they play in a season, to what happens in the event a member of the leadership group is missing through injury.
“We look forward to the first Test against Pakistan, and we’ll watch with great interest as our leaders lead the team into what is going to be a huge summer of cricket.”
Since Hazlewood is currently recovering from an injury, Marsh will be captain Tim Paine’s deputy during the two-Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, which begins on October 7 in Dubai.
“I had a meeting with Cracker, JL and Michael Lloyd in a room here at the hotel, and they told me the good news,” Marsh said. “I’m very proud, we’ve been through this process over the last couple of months as a team, and to have my team-mates vote myself and Josh into this position, I’m very proud, and hopefully, I’ll do the job justice.
“It is something different for cricket, but that’s the world these days, we live in the modern world and modern game of cricket. Josh and I will do everything we can to make Tim Paine’s life easier, that’s how I see the vice-captaincy role. We will, like every other person in this team, lead to the best of our ability in Australian cricket and make Tim Paine’s job as easy as possible.”
Marsh revealed that during his presentation, he told the panel that everyone in the team has to step up and be leaders.
“The biggest thing we’ve spoken about as a team right now, and I even said it in my presentation to the board, is whether I have a title next to my name or not, it’s actually irrelevant,” he said. “I want to be the best person, best Australian cricketer and leader that I can be for this group and for the whole organisation.
“That’s something we want every single cricketer to be in the Australian cricket team, and hopefully, I’ll be able to instill that in young guys coming through, what it means to be an Australian cricketer and what we stand for going forward. Yes it is different, but it’s 2018, and for us as a group, I thought it was a really good process for where we’re at right now, I sit here as the vice-captain and very proud.
“We went through the exact same process with WA. I’ve certainly grown as a leader in the past 12 months for WA, found out about myself and about my leadership. But I absolutely love captaining WA, probably my biggest strength is that hasn’t changed me as a person, and I certainly don’t see the vice-captaincy role changing me as a person, I’ll be that same guy around the team that’s got me to the position, and I think that’s really important, that’s leadership in my opinion.”
As for Hazlewood, he pointed out that he has no ambition to become captain of the Test side.
“It’s probably no secret that the relationships between captain and vice-captain haven’t been great in the last 10 or 12 years,” he said. “So maybe having someone as vice-captain who’s not necessarily aspiring to be captain, that’s the position that I find myself in and I can really contribute as a leader and a vice-captain without ever really pushing that next level. Then Mitch and myself can do everything we can to make Painey’s job as easy as possible.”