'Highlight of the summer would be Tim Paine's captaincy and wicketkeeping' - Justin Langer
Justin Langer has singled out Tim Paine's transformation as the leader of the side and his ace wicketkeeping skills as the highlight of Australia's perfect Test summer.
While Marnus Labuschagne's consistent batting heroics and Australia's exceptional all-round bowling displays have been in the headlines, Langer feels Paine's ceaseless rise has been the major takeaway from the team's victories.
The 35-year-old has gradually grown in stature in the batting department whereas his flawless glovework has left little room for improvement.
Paine took over the reins of Australia's Test unit in an abrupt manner as a consequence of the deplorable 'Sandpapergate' scandal in Cape Town.
His captaincy credentials were often questioned since then with several critics deeming him an 'interim skipper' before the leadership ban on Steve Smith expires.
However, the recent turn of events has reinforced Paine's reputation of being the long-term captain of the team given Langer's faith in the wicketkeeper-batsman.
"Highlight of the summer would be Tim Paine's captaincy and wicketkeeping," Langer told reporters.
"I think his leadership, strategically and tactically, was excellent. The way he took to the Test Championship, the way he kept wickets, a few of his innings, I thought Painey was brilliant this summer."
'Labuschagne could take on the captaincy role'
Impressed by the high quality of performances maintained over an extended period, Langer believed Australia had most of their "bases covered" and were growing into an invincible side.
"When you have all those bases covered, it means you've got a very good cricket team.
"We're still working towards having a great cricket team, but we've got a very good cricket team at the moment."
Langer also fondly reflected on Labuschagne's extraordinary surge in the batting charts given the fact he was not a regular member of the team at the start of 2019.
The 25-year-old's incredible run-scoring spree has got many talking up Labuschagne as a possible successor to Paine and Langer did not shy away from hinting at such an arrangement in the future when the time comes.
"It's probably an understatement saying it was a breakthrough summer [for Labuschagne]. It's a great credit to his mental and physical endurance, and it's a great credit to his humility that he's been able to stay so grounded through it all," he said.
"Marnus loves it so much he'd do it for nothing, and they're the sort of guys you just love having around your group. It's just been so much fun watching his development as a player.
"He's got some great traits, but he's just starting off in the side. We hope all our players develop their leadership, so when the time comes to need to find a new captain, we've got a number of guys who could take on the role."