MELBOURNE: Pat Cummins should have first shot at Australia's test captaincy in the wake of Tim Paine's resignation, having won the respect of his team mates as a leader, former skipper Adam Gilchrist has said.
Australia will name a new captain in the leadup to the Ashes after Paine sensationally stepped down from the role last week over a 'sexting' scandal.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Gilchrist was a successful understudy to captains Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting, leading Australia in six of his 96 tests, including a first series win in India in 35 years during the 2004 tour.
"I think Pat Cummins is the frontrunner there. I’ve got no problems with him having first opportunity," the 50-year-old told Reuters.
"They should have him if he’s keen to do it -- and he must be reasonably happy to take the role given he’s vice captain."
Like other major cricket nations, Australia has been reluctant to appoint bowlers as captains, with most coming from the batting ranks.
Cummins would be only the second specialist fast bowler in the role since Ray Lindwall led in one test against India in the mid-1950s.
"I see no reason to pigeonhole Pat as a fast bowler who can’t do it," said Gilchrist.
"I think he’s had a huge amount of respect from everyone, really -- particularly from his team mates, so I think that’s the way they will lean."
Steve Smith, who completed a two-year suspension from leadership roles last year for his part in the 2018 Newlands ball-tampering scandal, is eligible for the captaincy and has voiced his hopes of taking it on again.
However, pundits are divided as to whether the public would be ready to embrace the batsman again for a position often referred to as Australia's "second highest office in the land" after the Prime Minister.
Gilchrist said 28-year-old Cummins had stepped up as a senior leader while Smith was banned from leadership.
"I just think Pat Cummins has developed into a more integral part of that team and grown in his knowledge of the game and experiences he’s had," he added.
"I think it’s a case of whilst you’re away someone else has come in over the top of you, to an extent.
"Steve Smith could very well take the captaincy again but Pat Cummins will be the guy they lean to now."