The Australians conducted an optional training session in Brisbane on Friday, with a bigger hitout to come on Saturday. Not surprisingly, prolific ball-hitters Labuschagne and Steve Smith were among a small contingent of players who took to the nets.
Labuschagne was overlooked in favour of his close friend Smith for the vice-captaincy, and though that was not unexpected, it was a surprise he was not invited to take part in Cricket Australia’s leadership process.
As the only player of his age bracket whose position in the side is not in doubt, the 27-year-old Queenslander appears tailor-made for office down the track but was not interviewed at all by CA’s specially convened leadership panel.
Legends Greg Chappell and Shane Warne did not always agree when the former was a selector, but both greats have questioned Smith’s appointment as vice-captain ahead of Labuschagne.
It is not just head office which has ignored the star batter’s leadership credentials. Queensland Cricket has not gone into bat for their man in maroon.
Queensland’s decision to retain Khawaja was vindicated when the highly-respected batter led the Bulls to the Sheffield Shield title. The Cricket NSW board intervened in its high-performance program to install Cummins as the Blues’ one-day captain earlier this year.
The short-term reward came when Cummins led his state into the final, but the bigger pay-off arrived last week when he was installed as the Test skipper.
Queensland does not have an official vice-captain but wicketkeeper Jimmy Peirson has deputised as skipper when Khawaja is unavailable. Peirson was named skipper of the Brisbane Heat ahead of Labuschagne, who is unlikely to play many games in the Big Bash League due to his Test commitments.
Labuschagne played a straight bat when asked about his leadership aspirations.
“You don’t need the title to still be a leader within the group,” Labuschagne said. “I’ll definitely be taking up that part. I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
“I personally don’t look too far ahead. For me it’s just concentrating on this series. Captaincy and vice-captaincy is something you don’t search for, it’s something that comes to you.
“If it does come down the track I’ll be thankful and if it doesn’t, I’ll also be happy because I’ll be hopefully scoring runs for Australia.”
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