Australia's middle-order batter Marnus Labuschagne has expressed his surprise at Josh Hazlewood leading the team in the second ODI against England. The right-handed batter thought of Steve Smith as the frontrunner to be captain.
With Pat Cummins rested, Australia made a left-field choice for captaincy, choosing Josh Hazlewood to lead the side at the Adelaide Oval. The hosts picked Smith as the deputy for the right-arm seamer.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the third ODI at the MCG on Tuesday, the South African-born batter admitted that it caught him off guard. However, he understood the decision as Australia wanted to build a team of leaders.
As quoted by Perth Now, the 28-year-old said:
"It was probably a little bit of a surprise but I think as a squad and as a group, we're trying to make sure that we're not just kind of becoming a team that can be focused on one specific person to captain.
"Josh and Steve are great leaders and Steve's got a wealth of captaincy experience. Obviously the thought was to give to give Josh an opportunity in that leadership space where he hasn't had much opportunity prior to that."
Following the ball-tampering scandal in March 2018, Smith was relieved of captaincy duties. However, he resumed leadership duties in the second Ashes 2021-22 Test, with Cummins identified as a close COVID-19 contact.
Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne stitched a match-winning partnership in the second ODI
Meanwhile, Smith and Labuschagne played instrumental roles in Australia's series-sealing 72-run win over England in the second ODI. The pair added 101 for the third wicket as Travis Head and David Warner departed relatively cheaply.
Smith top-scored with 94, while his partner made a 55-ball 58 as the hosts piled up 280. With the ball, Adam Zampa and Mitchell Starc picked up four scalps each to bowl England out for 208 to win the series.