Australia cricket coach Darren Lehmann has backed batsman Steve Smith to succeed Michael Clarke as captain and admitted his team faces a period of upheaval following their Ashes defeat.
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Clarke is set to retire at the end of the series, which was decided on Saturday with one match to spare when England completed a fourth Test victory by an innings and 78 runs to regain the urn.
Smith, the world’s No1 Test batsman until England’s Joe Root overtook him at the weekend, had deputised for Clarke as one-day skipper and is widely expected to be anointed his successor.
“When you lose someone as great a player as Michael was and a leader, you’ve got to find the next man and that I would think, with board approval, would be Steve Smith,” said Lehmann.
“I think he’ll grow and be a really good leader. He’ll be aggressive as all Australian captains have been, but I think he’ll work out what works for him on and off the field the best.”
Lehmann, who has been assured his own position is safe, acknowledged that Clarke might be one of several ageing Australian stars to be playing in their last Ashes.
“There are going to be tough calls somewhere,” he added. “We’re not afraid to make the tough call, but you’ve got to also look after Australian cricket in the right way and we’ve got to make sure we’re doing the right things by the players both old and new.”