Aussies no surer on first Test captain

Having recently landed in Canberra, Australia coach Darren Lehmann was reminded the city had hosted many high-profile leadership struggles.


Lehmann, who on Tuesday continued to play a straight bat over questions about hamstrung Michael Clarke’s summer, could only laugh.

“That’s a good one. I like that,” Lehmann said on the eve of his side’s one-day clash with South Africa at Manuka Oval.

“It’s fine. There’s no spill.

“Obviously there’s a few things going on behind the scenes, we just have to wait and see what happens with Michael.

“In terms of the one-day setup, George (Bailey) is captain for this series … we’re fine and we get on with it.”

Team physio Alex Kountouris is this week expected to provide an update on Clarke’s third hamstring setback since August.

Speculation about a stand-in skipper will continue until Clarke’s chances of being fit for the first Test against India, starting on December 4, become clearer.

Vice-captain Brad Haddin, himself sidelined by injury, Steve Smith, David Warner and Shane Watson are among the candidates.

Watson led Australia in the final Test of their disastrous tour of India in 2013, when Clarke was ruled out due to his chronic back problem.

The 33-year-old has since relinquished the vice-captaincy, but confirmed his candidacy on Tuesday.

“I wouldn’t say no, that’s for sure,” Watson said prior to the team’s tour of the Australian War Memorial.

But the 33-year-old’s words came with a bag of caveats.

One, he is tipping Clarke to conquer his recurrent hamstring problems.

“I’ve talked to him about it. The diagnosis is, I think, better than what it was initially,” Watson said.

Two, Watson’s opinion is there’s a “few in front” of him to be given the post.

Three, the allrounder is more worried about reclaiming his spot in the XI after missing the recent UAE series due to injury.

Lehmann preferred to talk about Bailey’s one-day captaincy rather than Test candidates.

“It’s never easy when you chop and change the leadership,” Lehmann said.

“He does a really good job in those situations. Really level-headed and quite attacking.”

Watson agreed.

“But Michael’s legacy is always there, with how we play the game and how the game is run by George,” he added.