Steve Smith has described being named as the next Australia Test captain as an “honour and privilege” and hopes to send incumbent Michael Clarke out on a match high in his final appearance next week.
Cricket Australia announced yesterday that Smith will take over from Clarke when the 34-year-old retires from international cricket at the end of the current Ashes series in England, with David Warner named as vice-captain.
The announcement comes after Smith was also appointed captain for the upcoming one-day internationals in Ireland and England, while the 26-year-old will captain the Twenty20 side in the absence of the injured Aaron Finch.
Delighted Smith, who was the world’s top-ranked Test batsman until being replaced by Yorkshire’s Joe Root recently, said on Twitter: “It’s an honour and privilege to be given the opportunity to Captain the Australian Cricket Team. I’m really excited about what lies ahead. We really want to send @MClarke23 out on a winning note this week. He’s had a magnificent career and is a true great of Australian cricket.”
Clarke is set to make his final appearance for his country in the fifth and final Test at the Oval, where Australia are looking for a consolation win having already surrendered the Ashes after going 3-1 down in the series.
Smith’s appointment had been widely expected with the New South Wales player having previously deputised for Clarke in three Test matches, and national selector Rod Marsh is confident he is the right man for the job.
Marsh said: “We have had a clear succession plan in place for the captaincy with Steve Smith gaining valuable experience leading the Australian Test team while Michael Clarke was recovering from injury last season.
“When Michael made his decision to retire last week it was a very straightforward decision for us to nominate Steve as his successor.
“He has big shoes to fill but everything about him suggests he is the right man for the job. At 26, he is a fine young man with extraordinary talent, excellent leadership qualities and a terrific temperament.
“He is highly regarded by the selectors and we congratulate him on being appointed to the role on an ongoing basis. He should be incredibly proud.”
Clarke announced his retirement last week after Australia were condemned to defeat in the Ashes series by losing the fourth Test at Trent Bridge.
The appointment of opening batsman Warner as vice-captain underlines his growing maturity and status in the side. The 28-year-old was fined and banned after a much-publicised breach of discipline on the 2013 tour of England but is now a key player as Australia look to recover from a poor series.
Marsh said: “David has matured and developed into an important senior figure in the Australian team. He has come a long way.”