Brisbane, Dec 5 Former Australia captain Ian Chappell said on Sunday that pacer Pat Cummins is the right choice as the new Test captain. At the same time, he questioned why there was a difference in the leadership punishments which were given to Steve Smith and David Warner by Cricket Australia (CA) after the 2018 Sandpaper scandal in Cape Town.
After wicketkeeper-batter Tim Paine sensationally stepped down from the post due to explicit text exchanges with a former Cricket Tasmania employee made public, Cummins was then appointed to captain Australia in Test cricket.
"Cummins is the right choice as captain. He is by far the most inspirational cricketer in Australia. If a team-mate is not inspired by Cummins' heartfelt leadership, he's playing the wrong grade," wrote Chappell in his column for ESPNCricinfo on Sunday.
Talking about Smith's appointment as Cummins's deputy, Chappell remarked, "However, Steven Smith as vice-captain is a controversial choice. How come Smith's leadership punishment carries a different weight to that of David Warner? Cheating is cheating and both players indulged in the crime at Newlands in 2018. That being the case, their punishments should be identical but they are not.
"I can only assume Smith received the lesser punishment, in terms of not being disbarred from the captaincy, because someone at Cricket Australia (CA) didn't like Warner. Like and dislike cannot be part of any selection dilemma and CA should have made a complete break from the past with a brand new leadership duo."
The 78-year-old mentioned that opener Marcus Harris and either of extra batters in Travis Head or Usman Khawaja could be the weak links in Australia's batting.
"Australia have three established stars with the bat: Warner, Smith and Marnus Labuschagne. They have three others who are a gamble, with Cameron Green the most likely to succeed. Marcus Harris and either Usman Khawaja or Travis Head are the players who are most likely to be found wanting. Australia's best attribute is a strong bowling attack which will fare well if Alex Carey provides the expected input as keeper."
Chappell signed off by saying that this could be the hardest Ashes series to predict a straightforward winner. "This is the hardest Ashes series to decipher. First, there are the controversies to be assessed on both sides; the Tim Paine crisis and the Azeem Rafiq Yorkshire debacle. Then, neither team has played much serious cricket in the build-up and therefore it's hard to equate the successors in each side. However, it's still the Ashes and one team will gain an advantage over the other."
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