Seasoned batter Steven Smith will lead Australia in the third Test of the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy against India in Indore as regular skipper Pat Cummins will miss the game to remain home in Sydney due to a family illness.
Cummins flew home following Australia’s defeat in the second-Test in Delhi last week, explaining in a statement that his mother “is ill and in palliative care”.
With a nine-day break between Tests following the three-day finish in the second game, it had been hoped the 29-year-old would return to India for the third Test beginning Wednesday.
But Australia confirmed on Friday that Cummins would miss the Indore Test. They are keeping the door open for him to return for the fourth Test in Ahmedabad, but Smith could end up captaining in both the remaining matches.
“I have decided against returning to India at this time. I feel I am best being here with my family. I appreciate the overwhelming support I have received from Cricket Australia and my teammates. Thanks for your understanding,” said a statement from Cummins.
It will be the third time Smith has led the Test side since his reinstatement as vice-captain in late 2021 when Cummins took over from Tim Paine. Smith has filled in as skipper for two Tests — in December, 2022 when Cummins had been ruled out due to injury and in the Ashes Test of 2021 when there were Covid-related concerns.
While Cricket Australia have not named any replacement for Cummins for this Test, the spot is likely to be taken by either Mitchell Starc (who is also recovering from injury) or Scott Boland who featured in the first Test. Australia had preferred to go in with just one pacer in Cummins for the second Test in Delhi.
Apart from Cummins, Australia, who are 0-2 down in the series, will also miss the services of other senior members like David Warner and Josh Hazlewood, having been ruled out of the Test series already due to injuries.