Watson, Smith ponder Gabba Test captaincy


Australia captain Michael Clarke is at risk of missing the first Test against India in Brisbane in two weeks, but the support for his leadership remains strong behind the scenes, even with other names being mentioned.

Clarke had to withdraw from the ODI series with a hamstring injury, one he's had a few times before, and may not be fit for the 'Gabba. With Brad Haddin, his deputy, also still recovering from a shoulder injury, there are concerns.

Coach Darren Lehmann said there was nothing dramatic happening in terms of a replacement, and that they'd not made a decision yet. He also said they were focused on George Bailey and the ODI series against South Africa.

Lehmann said: "Obviously there's a few things going on behind the scenes, we just have to wait and see what happens with Michael in the next few days.

"In terms of the one-day setup, George is captain for this series and we've got to play well."

One man who could take the role, if Haddin is not fit, is Shane Watson. The all-rounder captained the side in Delhi in 2013, and says he'd be keen to do it again

He said: "I wouldn't say no, that's for sure. The time I've had the privilege of captaining Australia was certainly incredible to have that opportunity. It was an honour to be able to do it.

"But there's a few people that are well in front of me to get the captaincy, so my most important thing is to try and be part of that first Test team in Brisbane."

Watson added of Clarke: "If he's fit it'll be a great thing. He's got an incredible record as a captain and a player as well. Everyone's preference is for Michael to be captain and fully fir for that first Test.

"Certainly as a leader it'd leave a hole, but as a player as well. Whoever would get an opportunity would have the skill set to try and make up for that void that Michael would leave. But everyone's got their fingers crossed everything will be right for Michael."

Another, less likely, option is batsman Steve Smith, who has been tipped to become captain in future. When asked about it by Mark Taylor, Smith conceded that if Clarke or Haddin were unfit, he'd be ready to lead.

He said: "If those two aren't there they've got to make a decision and if they decide I'm the person to be in charge to lead that first Test I'd be comfortable doing it and hopefully I'd be able to do a good job as well.

"I've had a few experiences in captaining with NSW and the Sixers and think I've done quite a good job with those as well. So it is something that I do enjoy doing, and if I do get the opportunity to do that one day it'll be a dream come true."