There are just 19 days to go until the start of the Ashes series down under but the Aussies are captainless after Tim Paine resigned today due to a scandal concerning inappropriate text messages sent to a female colleague in 2017.

To be fair to Tim, we wouldn’t want to be the Australian captain either but the situation leaves Cricket Australia with a big decision to make just over a fortnight out from the first Test against England at the Gabba.

It remains to be seen whether Paine will remain in the team as wicketkeeper, though given his record we’re hoping he plays all five Tests, but naming a new captain will surely be the Aussies’ top priority.

But who will be the person to step up to take that poisoned chalice and lead their country to defeat in the upcoming Ashes series?

We’ve assessed the potential candidates…

Pat Cummins

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With the captain gone, turning to the vice-captain would seem a natural next step and for Australia, that would mean giving the job to fast bowler Pat Cummins.

But the Aussies have traditionally shied away from giving pace bowlers the job, having not done so in any format since 1956.

Cummins is already going to have the hours of toiling on flat decks in the baking sun to worry about, do Cricket Australia really want to shoulder him with this as well?

Add that to the fact that they may have planned to rest him at some point, which would leave them searching for a new captain all over again.

Steve Smith

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They wouldn’t, would they?

Smith was famously being removed from the job due to the ball-tampering/sandpaper scandal and replaced by Paine in 2018.

He’s back in the side after serving his suspension but even by the Aussies’ standards, you feel it would be a step too far to reinstall him as the skipper.

David Warner

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You wouldn’t think it based on the way he played in the 2019 Ashes but our old friend David Warner is one of the more experienced heads in the Australian side.

One pro is that Warner’s not going to have much else to think about as if things stay true to form, Stuart Broad will ensure that he rarely makes it past the second or third over of each innings.

That said, his role in the ball-tampering/sandpaper scandal will surely rule him out as well.

Marnus Labuschagne 

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A dark horse to get the nod.

Marnus Labuschagne’s Test career began after the whole sandpaper situation, so he’s kept his nose fairly clean in that sense.

The 27-year-old does look like one for the future but kicking off his reign with an Ashes defeat is something that Cricket Australia might want to protect him from.

Travis Head

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The middle-order batter was one of the vice-captains during Paine’s tenure as skipper, which would suggest the Aussies think he’s capable enough.

But heading into the series, there are question marks whether he’s good enough to be in the team.

Though to be fair, that never stopped Paine, did it?

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