Let’s face reality: as confident as Michael Clarke is that he will be fit for the World Cup in March 2015 there is a more than even money chance it would seem that he will not be available for selection in all fixtures (if any). This, of course, raises the question of who ought deputise for him. The incumbent in this role is George Bailey however the sharp rise of Steve Smith to the captainancy in test match cricket means there is a conversation to be had about who should take the roll in 3 months time.
Bailey has done little wrong in the role of captain. Unfortunately his batting in 2014 in one day fixtures has not been up to standard; viz, in 17 matches played he has averaged 25 whilst scoring 405 runs with 3 fifties and no hundreds.
I am a firm believer in picking the best eleven players available for selection in the team and then selecting the captain. Steve Smith is firmly entrenched in the best eleven cricketers available for selection but I am not sure that George Bailey is similarly entrenched given his form and:
- Warner, Finch, Clarke (if fit), Smith, Maxwell and Watson (if bowling) pick themselves and are in the best available eleven in this form of the game.
- White, Ferguson, Burns and Dunk, to name just 4 batters, all performed very well in Matador BBQs Cup which should be a form of selection trial for the World Cup.
Had Steve Smith not performed so well as captain in the test matches (I know it is a small sample but early signs are good) I have no doubt that there would be less of a question about Bailey’s captaincy: he would have been carried despite his bad form. This approach would have been detrimental to Australia’s chances of winning in my view. Smith’s elevation to test captaincy makes this issue significantly easier to deal with and now the NSP can select the best eleven players available without worrying about the captaincy.
Interestingly, I know wonder if Steve Smith will unite the captaincies of Australian cricket teams across all three forms of the game? He is a solid T20 player who has not had much of a run in the side of late. Maybe Aaron Finch’s time as captain in that form of the game is also in danger of running out given the rise of Steve Smith. Only time will tell.