Josh Hazelwood after the announcement of his promotion to the Test vice-captaincy.
Josh Hazelwood after the announcement of his promotion to the Test vice-captaincy.

Hazlewood’s quick fix to Aussie leadership tension

JOSH Hazlewood is not aspiring to captain the Australian Test team despite being appointed as its joint vice-captain.

The 27-year-old was promoted with Mitch Marsh to deputy on Thursday after a successful pitch to selectors, board members and staff. He was also endorsed by his peers.

The fast bowler said being content as Tim Paine's number two would lead to a healthier leadership group than those of the past decade.

"It's probably no secret that the relationship between captain and vice-captain hasn't been great in the last 10 or 12 years," Hazlewood said after his appointment.

"So I guess that promotes me to a degree.

"With no aspirations to be captain you can have a really good relationship there. Then Mitch and myself can do everything we can to make Painey's (Paine) job as easy as possible.

"Having someone as vice-captain who's not necessarily aspiring to be captain - that's the position I find myself in, I think. I can really contribute as a leader and as a vice-captain without pushing that next level."

Hazlewood's comments came two days after former vice-captain Shane Watson called for Paine to be allowed to select his own deputy.

Watson said vice-captaincy appointments - including his own - have been wrong for more than 10 years.

"I'd say they've got it wrong the last quite a while. Really, since Ricky (Ponting) and Adam Gilchrist. They complemented each other really well," Watson told The Daily Telegraph.

"I think the captain should just about pick the vice-captain or have a huge influence in that decision because in the end, as a captain, you know who is going to be your most supportive person."

But Paine was not even part of the panel, which consisted of selectors Trevor Hohns and Greg Chappell, Cricket Australia chairman David Peever, CA board member Mark Taylor, coach Justin Langer, team psychologist Michael Lloyd and CA high-performance boss Pat Howard.

Marsh and Hazlewood's appointments reflect CA's desire to improve team culture in the aftermath of the ball-tampering saga.

Hazlewood - who will step into the role last held by David Warner - said he found the process "nerve-racking" but was "humbled" to receive his teammates' support.

Speaking of the decision to share the vice-captaincy roles, Hazlewood said: "I think it will work well. It's obviously a bit different, but it's modern times I guess.

"Through the amount of cricket we're going to play, and myself as a quick whether I'm missing games or resting, it's good to have one in the team who can step up on that occasion."

But the shared role still poses the question of who will be Australia's next Test captain if Paine is injured, or dropped.

It's a question not even Hazlewood or Marsh have answered yet.

"I guess that's an interesting one. If that does happen then I guess we'll have to talk about it," Hazlewood said. "But Mitch has obviously done a lot of captaincy in the past for Western Australia and even through the junior levels.

"I wouldn't mind filling in for a session or two here or there. I think it's tough on a cricketer to be a full-time captain."

Marsh, 26, has previously captained Australia A, Western Australia and the Australia under-19s.

Hazlewood also discussed the team charter that is set to be enforced before Australia's next Test match, which comes against Pakistan in the UAE on October 7.

Josh Hazlewood is, along with Mitch Marsh, Australia’s new Test vice-captain. Picture: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo
Josh Hazlewood is, along with Mitch Marsh, Australia’s new Test vice-captain. Picture: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo

He said players would hold each other to account under the charter, which was not only aimed at improving team culture.

"It's not about putting words on a page, but it's about living those (values) days in, day out and holding each other accountable to those behaviours as well," he said.

"Hopefully that creates an environment where everyone is comfortable and everyone can play their best cricket."

Hazlewood becomes one of just a handful of specialist pace bowlers to rise the team ranks to vice-captain. Rodney Hogg and Jeff Thomson were the last in the 1970s and 1980s, according to cricket.com.au.

"I've had a few texts from a few fast bowlers already wishing me the best," Hazlewood told foxsports.com.au.

When asked why bowlers have rarely held the role, he said: "I think you're probably a bit busier on the field, especially a spinner bowling a lot of overs, or if you're down at fine leg recovering or bowling long spells as well.

"I guess it's always a bit easier for a batter to take the emotion out of it."

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