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Cummins appointed Australia Test captain after Paine announces exit

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Pat Cummins will be Australia’s 47th men’s Test captain after being confirmed as Tim Paine’s successor for next month’s Ashes series.

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Cricket Australia announced Cummins’ appointment on Friday afternoon, while also returning Steve Smith to a leadership position as his deputy.

It marks Smith’s first such role since the 2018 Cape Town ball-tampering scandal, having since served a two-year leadership ban.

CA also confirmed he would be the man to step up to captain the side if Cummins was to be injured or rested.

Cummins’ rise to the top meanwhile puts him in rare air, as the second fast bowler to captain Australia and first to hold the position on a full-time basis.

Once so injury plagued that he went almost 2000 days between his first and second Tests, Cummins has not missed a red-ball game for Australia since October 2018.

That fitness will be key in his appointment, given the need for stability after the tumultuous end to Paine’s reign less than three weeks out from the Ashes.

“I am honoured to accept this role ahead of what will be a massive Ashes summer,” Cummins said in a statement.

“I hope I can provide the same leadership Tim (Paine) has given the group in the past few years.

“With Steve and I as captains, a number of very senior players in this squad and some great young talent coming through we are a strong and tightly knit group.

“This is an unexpected privilege which I am very grateful for and am very much looking forward to.”

Cummins will become just the second full-time captain in the past 45 years after Michael Clarke to have not captained his state in first-class cricket previously.

But the significant number of senior players around him, along with his brief experience captaining NSW in one-day cricket last summer, is seen as an advantage.

One of those will be Smith, who has played with Cummins since he was a teenager.

“I am pleased to return to the leadership of the team and look forward to helping and assisting Pat in any way I can,” Smith said.

“Pat and I have played together for a long time, so we know our respective styles well.

“We are also great friends, as is the whole group. As a team, we want to play good, positive cricket and also really enjoy each other’s company.

“There are exciting times ahead as we focus on the Ashes and beyond.”

Cummins’ first task will be retaining the Ashes on home soil this summer, before leading Australia’s first tour to Pakistan in more than 23 years next March.

Australia have not won a Test series in Asia since 2011.

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