Former Australia seamer Jason Gillespie has backed Test skipper Pat Cummins to bring a collaborative approach to leadership during his stint which begins with the Ashes series against England on Wednesday at the Gabba.
Gillespie feels Cummins – the first Australian pacer to lead the Test team since Ray Lindwall in 1956/57 – will need to rely upon an open group of senior men in the side, owing to his primary duties as the side’s bowling spearhead.
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Speaking at a media interaction on Friday, Gillespie said: “Cummins is not going to be an authoritarian leader, I suppose. He is going to bring in a collaborative style of leadership. He will need to be that because being a fast-bowling captain is going to be really difficult at times.”
“There will be times when Pat will take a backseat from the leadership responsibilities in the middle of a long bowling spell and the other senior players will be more visible. However, make no mistake Cummins will be in charge out there. He’ll just need some support every now and then,” added Gillespie.
Gillespie has also thrown his weight behind Cummins’ deputy, Steve Smith, who returns to the Australian leadership set-up for the first time since the 2018 ball-tampering scandal. The 46-year-old also remarked that Smith’s return to the role will augur well for Australia, despite admitting earlier apprehensions over the same.
“At the time of the Sandpaper Gate, I didn’t think he (Smith) would be involved in the leadership role for Australia again. Over time, I’ve probably changed my tune and I certainly think he can have the leadership role. A lot of water has gone under the bridge and he’s paid a heavy price and probably, a bit unfairly. Cummins and Langer have made it clear that Smith will be a massive asset in the leadership group. If it’s good enough for the captain and coach, I’m comfortable seeing him in that role,” remarked Gillespie.
Need for player rotation
Gillespie, a veteran of 168 matches for the national side, feels Australia will need to rotate its seamers throughout the series due to bio-bubble fatigue, as was evident in its last home series against India.
“There was a bit of criticism last time [India series] where they didn’t rotate the fast bowlers and they looked a bit worn out towards the end of it. But I hear a bit of talk that there could be rotation which will be interesting.”
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While Cummins remains indispensable with the added responsibility, Gillespie believes the side could swap an under-fire Mitchell Starc with Michael Neser or Jhye Richardson across the five Tests.
“I think they’d rotate Starc through the series. I would play him in the first Test and want him primed and ready to go for the Pink Ball Test in Adelaide. Last summer, Mitch was going through a tough time personally with his father passing away. It’s a difficult time for anyone. That said, he will have to perform well here. He has copped a bit of criticism but he’s a quality bowler and I’m looking forward to seeing him bowl,” said Gillespie.
A former player and current head coach of South Australia, Gillespie believes the time has come for its star players Travis Head and Alex Carey to revel on the big stage and has labelled them to have a fine summer.
Gillespie also believes that Australia will begin favourite and is likely to seal the series despite a quality English side that comprises skipper Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
“I think Australia would win three Tests, England might take one but I’d go three-nil in favour of Australia,” said Gillespie.
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