“Along the way we’ve been trying to develop leaders. Not necessarily anointing who the next captain is, and that’s all been to give some of the younger guys, who deserve it by the way, the opportunity to show some leadership around. There’s more to being the captain than just making the calls out on the field. It’s more about off the field etc. We’re trying to make sure some of these guys get experience at state level, and while we can’t tell the states who we want as their leaders, we can make suggestions.”
Carey’s first two summers in the Shield reaped a mere 200 runs in seven matches for South Australia, but since then he has compiled 1338 first-class runs in 24 matches at an average of 37.16, including two centuries. It’s a record that compares favourably with most batsmen in the country save for the very top of the pile, meaning that a rapid start to the Shield this season would pose serious questions for Hohns and Langer, particularly after Carey showed himself more than comfortable in international company during the World Cup.
Paine’s batting was the subject of plenty of scrutiny during the Ashes, as he struggled for runs until a vital half-century in the decisive fourth Test at Old Trafford, after had been counselled by none other than Healy to “bat like a wicketkeeper” and be more intent on scoring than occupation of the crease.
“Tim’s done a very good job as captain, that goes without saying. We do obviously need him to continue to contribute,” Hohns said. “He’s still probably the best wicketkeeper in the world in my mind, I might be a bit biased, but in the area he operates in it’s important to contribute with the bat. That’s all we’ll be asking him, and he’ll know when the right time is I would say. Then if his performance or his contribution wanes then they’re the conversations we have to have at the appropriate time.”
There is some irony to the level of discussion to be had about the future of the Australian captaincy, given the extremely rushed and far from glorious circumstances in which Paine was handed the role by Hohns and the former coach Darren Lehmann at the height of the Newlands scandal last year. Hohns has revealed his account of the snap decision to make Paine the Test captain in Cape Town, within minutes of being informed by Smith that he was to stand down.
“We didn’t have time to go into anything in too much detail because we had to make a decision just like that,” Hohns said. “But it was clear he was the type of person who could do the job, personality-wise as well. As it’s turned out he’s done a wonderful job. In a very, very difficult period of time he’s been outstanding for us and for Australian cricket.”
A full interview with Trevor Hohns will appear on ESPNcricinfo later this week