Australia's Test dominance continued on Friday with the same protagonist leading the charge for the hosts. Marnus Lanuschange, who only a few months back was called up as a concussion substitute for Steve Smith, has once again scored a century, the first for this decade, en route to his unbeaten 130 on day 1 of the third Test against New Zealand. Following the end of day's play, former skipper Ricky Ponting backed Labuschange to be Australia's future captain while also backing Tim Paine for his present role for 12 more months.
Labuschange scored his fourth Test century of the summer to further cement his place in the Australian side, just two days after capping off 2019 as the highest Test scorer with 1104 runs.
Labuschange has, however, had limited opportunities to lead even his club side, Queensland owing to him standing behind long-serving members like Chris Hartley and Usman Khawaja. And when the latter was away on national duties, Jimmy Pierson would take over.
Meanwhile, Paine's captaincy has also been a talking point. He had taken over the responsibilty during the toughest moment of Australian cricket history and safely guided the team towards a recovery before retaining the Ashes in
England earlier last year. However, with Paine already 35 and Steve Smith's captaincy ban getting over coming March, questions over the former's future has already been raised.
Ponting still backs Paine to continue with the captaincy, especially after his assertive 79 and eight dismissals in the Boxing Day game against New Zealand.
"Paine hasn't really got age on his side but he probably had one his best games for Australia last week in Melbourne," Ponting told cricket.com.au. "Travis Head is vice-captain now, Marnus Labuschagne is another one that will come into the conversation in 12-18 months' time once he's properly established himself in the team. He seems like the right sort of guy to maybe be a captain down the track at some point."
"But 12 months down the track, I'll give Painey at least another 12 months.
"Yes, he's 35 but if you think of it in cricket terms he's still relatively young.
"With all the cricket that he's missed through his career with his finger issues, it's not like his body has given up on him or getting little injuries – he's as fit as anyone in that squad."