Friday 19 January 2018 / 02:42 PM

Who will be Australia’s next Test captain?

Michael Clarke has again succumbed to his recurring hamstring injury.

It is the third time in three months that the Aussie captain has been ruled out because of his pesky left hammy.

Clarke will definitely miss the rest of the ODI series against South Africa and there is a chance he may need to go under the knife.

If he undergoes surgery, Clarke will miss a minimum of eight weeks, which will see him miss the whole summer of cricket.

If this happens, Australia not only loses their best batsmen, but their leader as well.

In the second one-dayer, Steve Smith came in for the injured Clarke and George Bailey took over as captain.

In the upcoming Tests against India it will be a whole other story.

If Brad Haddin is fit, he will slot back into the Test team and become captain. Easy.

However if Haddin is not fit – with a shoulder injury hampering him during the recent series against Pakistan – the selectors will have a huge decision to make.

Smith has been earmarked as future leader and it may be the time for selectors to take a risk and throw the captaincy to him now to get a taste.

David Warner’s name has been thrown around as well. Before he was dropped from the Australian team for punching Joe Root, Warner was touted as the next Aussie Test captain. He has matured immensely since then and has one opening spot locked down. Warner, arguably the team’s most reliable batsman after Clarke, leads from the front and wouldn’t look out of place as skipper.

The safer options would be to give it to Shane Watson or George Bailey.

Watson has captained Australia in one Test already and is one of the most senior players in the team. Considering this will be only be as a fill-in, Watson looks a likely replacement.

For Bailey to become Australia’s next Test captain, things get a lot harder. First of all, he isn’t an incumbent in the team. Michael Clarke’s spot opens up a spot, but Phil Hughes and Alex Doolan are in front of him selection-wise, with the 30-year-old Bailey pigeonholed as a limited-overs specialist. On the other hand, everyone knows his credentials as a captain – he was chosen as Australia’s T20 captain on this alone – but for selectors to pick someone in the test Team on captaincy and not performance looks unlikely.

The potential leadership void shapes as a big challenge for an Australian side reeling from their hammering at the hands of Pakistan, coming up against a dangerous Indian outfit who boast several players in sensational form.

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Ben Jaffrey

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