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Lyon endorses Cummins and Smith as 'two best candidates' for captain and vice-captain

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Published in Cricket
Wednesday, 24 November 2021 17:44

Australia's most experienced Test player Nathan Lyon believes Pat Cummins and Steven Smith will make a good leadership duo as Cricket Australia appears set to announce the pair as Test captain and vice-captain ahead of the Ashes.

Both Cummins and Smith have been interviewed this week by a CA panel that has been specially convened to select Australia's next men's Test captain following the resignation of Tim Paine.

Lyon, who is the only member of Australia's squad to have played 100 Tests, endorsed the duo and was particularly excited about the possibility of Cummins taking over as skipper.

"I think you look at the two guys who have been interviewed by Australia for the two roles, I think they're probably the two best candidates in my eyes," Lyon said.

"Playing under Pat at New South Wales cricket in the one-day set up last year, I think he did a really good job, to be honest with you. I know it's going to be a different kettle of fish, but he's got a lot of senior players around him to support Pat if he does get the nod. But then you look at Steve Smith, I think Smithy is up there with the best batters in the world. He's got a great cricket mind and I've got no dramas with both of them putting their hand up for the captaincy, to be honest with you."

Lyon said he had no interest in the official leadership role despite being the most experienced player in the side and declaring that he has aspirations of playing for a least two more years with tours of India and England at the forefront of his long-term goals.

"If I put my hand up for the captaincy it means I'd have to hand over the team song and to be honest, I'd rather lead the team song," Lyon said. "So I'm more than happy for Pat and Steve and anyone else to put their hand up. I'll keep my hand down."

Lyon believes the yin and yang of having a bowler and a batter in the two leadership roles within the Test team would be of major benefit to the side's performance.

"I think it will have a really positive effect, if you look at the guys who are going to be captain and vice-captain and whichever way that goes," he said. "I think it's going to be really beneficial that you've got a bowler's mindset, and also a batter's mindset, rather than having two batters' mindset. You've actually got both mindsets that can come together and really come up with some really good guidance, I guess.

"So I'm really excited by the fact that we're potentially going to have a bowler as captain but in saying that we've also got the best one of the best batters and one of the best players to play the game in Smithy there as well.

"I think there's going to be some really good, open, and honest conversations throughout those two guys and there's going to be some really good guidance. We've got some really senior guys throughout our squad with some younger players here as well so I think Cricket Australia's going to be in some good hands."

While Paine has handed over the captaincy and doubts have been raised publicly about his place in the side as a wicketkeeper-batter alone, Lyon was in no doubt as to whether Paine should be in the side for the first Test.

"I think the selectors said that we're going to pick the best available XI and, in my eyes, Tim Paine is the best keeper in the world," Lyon said. "I know I want him. This is very selfish from a bowler's point of view. I want the best gloveman behind the stumps and in my eyes, that's Tim Paine."

Paine has been named in Tasmania's Marsh Cup 50-over team to play Western Australia on Friday at Bellerive Oval in Hobart meaning he will play five consecutive days of cricket after getting through a four-day second XI game for Tasmania unscathed on Thursday.

Paine kept for 167 overs against South Australia's 2nd XI and took nine catches behind the stumps. He missed out with the bat in the first innings adjudged lbw for 1 off 2 deliveries.

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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