Australia have unveiled two new vice-captains for the Test side, with allrounder Mitchell Marsh and fast bowler Josh Hazlewood appointed to the positions after a lengthy selection process.
In a first for the sport's flagship side, Cricket Australia announced on Thursday that dual deputies to captain Tim Paine had been chosen following an application system adopted by new coach Justin Langer from the Australian Football League that featured a player vote.
Hazlewood is missing the upcoming Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates (beginning October 7) through injury, meaning Marsh will be the sole vice-captain to Paine for the two-match campaign. It’s to be Australia’s first since the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal that saw Steve Smith and David Warner cop hefty suspensions.
"I'm very proud," Marsh told cricket.com.au in Dubai shortly after his appointment was confirmed to the Test squad.
"We've been through this process over the last couple of months as a team and to have my teammates vote me in and myself into this position, I'm very proud. Hopefully I'll do the job justice."
Hazlewood becomes just the third specialist paceman to hold the vice-captaincy after Rodney Hogg and Jeff Thomson both held the role briefly during the 1970s and ‘80s respectively, while no frontline quick has captained Australia in a Test since Ray Lindwall's one-off match at the helm in 1956.
Marsh was appointed captain of Western Australia last summer under former Warriors coach Langer and now follows on from his father Geoff, who also served as a Test vice-captain under Allan Border in the late ‘80s and early '90s.
After a poll from the playing group, Hazlewood and Marsh were two of a number of players selected to present to a panel featuring Langer, former Test captains Greg Chappell and Mark Taylor, CA Board chairman David Peever, high performance boss Pat Howard, selection chief Trevor Hohns and psychologist Dr. Michael Lloyd.
The National Selection Panel (which consists of Langer, Chappell and Hohns) then made their recommendations to the CA Board, which ratified the appointments.
Hohns praised the leadership qualities of Hazlewood and Marsh, but stressed the process should not be taken as a suggestion either player is necessarily viewed as Paine's successor.
"It was not a process designed to find the next Australian Test Captain, but to find two vice-captains who will support and help drive the team’s goals and objectives," Hohns explained.
"Justin Langer and Tim Paine have a clear vision for the Test team, and Josh and Mitch are invested and ready to support the coach and captain on this journey.
"Our vision is to create great cricketers and great people, and we are extremely fortunate to have such terrific young men charged with responsibility of upholding the high standards and values we and Australian cricket fans expect of their Test team."
As reported by cricket.com.au on Wednesday, Aaron Finch, Travis Head and Alex Carey – none of whom have a Test cap – were the other three players along with Paine, Marsh and Hazlewood who topped the initial leadership poll.
"My question was, 'If you were the sole selector of Australia, who would you have as captain or vice-captain?'," Langer told cricket.com.au of the vote.
The process is used by many AFL teams including this year's grand finalists West Coast Eagles, where Langer has served as a board member.
"It is something different for cricket but that's the world these days, we live in a modern world," said Marsh.
"Josh and I will do everything we can to make Tim Paine's life easier, that's how I see the vice-captaincy role. Like every other person in this team, we'll lead to the best of our ability in Australian cricket."
Hohns said the appointment of two deputies will help reflect a diversity of views within the team.
"We believe the new leadership model will best support the captain. It is a successful model used across various sporting codes wound the world," Hohns said.
"We also feel the new model provides great balance. There is strong and even representation of both the batting and bowling groups, which is important when making decisions which are in the best interest of the team.
"Josh has shown he is a leader among the playing group, and we felt it was important to have a representative from the bowling group. He’s calm under pressure, communicates well and leads by example on and off the field.
"Mitch has successfully captained Australia A, Australia U19 and WA. He is an extremely popular member of the team, he has great humility, and given his lineage. he understands and respects the responsibility which comes with representing Australia and Australians.”
Qantas Tour of the UAE
Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc
Sep 29 - Oct 2: Tour match v Pak A, Dubai
Oct 7-11: First Test, Dubai
Oct 16-20: Second Test, Abu Dhabi