‘Underdone’: Pat Cummins’ 340-day drought
Has cricket ever produced an athlete as marketable as Pat Cummins?
The charismatic paceman has established himself as one of the game’s most respected talents and has quickly become a leading figure in the national men’s side.
And the 27-year-old speedster will be pivotal to Australia’s success in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, which starts at Adelaide Oval next week.
Like several of his Australian teammates, Cummins has not played any long-format cricket since the New Year’s Test against New Zealand in January.
Since then, Cummins has competed in one-day tours to India, South Africa and England, while also representing the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.
Due to this relentless white-ball schedule — combined with a global pandemic — the Australian vice-captain hasn’t played a first-class match in 340 days.
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Although he conceded the lack of long-format cricket has left him “a bit underdone”, Cummins is not fazed by the 11-month drought.
“I’m really comfortable with where my preparation’s been at leading into this first Test,” Cummins told news.com.au in his role as an ambassador for Swiss watchmaker Hublot.
“I’ve been playing lots of high-quality, high-intensity cricket, which hopefully makes it a bit easier to transfer (to Tests).
“We’ve got an eight-day preparation leading into this first Test, and that’s deliberate to give us a couple of really good centre-wicket hit-outs in lieu of playing games.
“I feel lucky that I start the summer feeling quite fresh, and in some ways, maybe even a little bit underdone. But I’d prefer to be that way than overdone.”
Australia’s Pat Cummins celebrates the wicket of Glenn Phillips.Source:News Corp Australia
After Australia clinched the three-match ODI series against India, Cummins was rested for the remainder of the white-ball fixtures leading into the Test matches.
Cricket icon Shane Warne was not impressed, but Cummins attested it was a “mutual decision”.
Following the Border-Gavaskar Trophy — during which the pace bowlers could be expected to bowl 150 overs — the Australian men’s side is scheduled to travel to South Africa for a three-Test series.
For that reason, Cummins feels “very lucky” to be granted a week off ahead of a gruelling three months of Test cricket.
“(We’re) trying to find a balance of playing as much as we can, but also having an eye on what’s the best preparation for the Test series,” Cummins said.
“There’s going to be a bulk of work coming up in the next couple of months.”
CUMMINS ADDRESSES CAPTAINCY TALK
After trialling two co-captains over the last 24 months, national selectors recently settled on Cummins as Tim Paine’s deputy in the Test side.
Some pundits questioned whether bowlers should be bestowed with the added responsibility, but ironically, it was during a Test match against India in Adelaide two years ago that Cummins proved he was captaincy material.
In the closing minutes of day one, Cummins snared the critical breakthrough of Cheteshwar Pujara — not with the ball, but rather in the field.
An airborne Cummins found Pujara inches short of his ground with a one-handed fling from mid-on.
Temperatures had been sitting in the high 30s all day and Cummins was still putting every ounce of energy he had into unearthing a wicket, having already bowled 19 overs that day.
In the unlikely event Paine was unavailable for a Test match this summer, Cummins said he would be ready to lead his country.
“If I have to do that, of course I can,” Cummins said.
“There’s plenty of other guys in the team that I’ll definitely be leaning on if that ever happens. But Painey is a very tough player, so I’m sure that won’t become an issue at all this summer.”
Steve Smith’s leadership ban is over following his role in the ball tampering scandal but was overlooked as skipper in the recent T20 series against India when regular captain Aaron Finch was ruled out of a match with injury.
Instead, Matt Wade was put in charge, suggesting a return to the captaincy for Smith may be dead in the water as he’s left to concentrate solely on his superhuman batting — opening the door for Cummins to take over from Paine.
Pat Cummins is an ambassador of Hublot.Source:Supplied
PAT DOES IT ALL WITH BAT AND BALL
Cummins is currently ranked the world’s No. 1 bowler in Test cricket, boasting a Glenn McGrath-esque average of 21.82.
But when India toured Down Under in the 2018/19 summer, Cummins also established himself as a handy lower-order batsman as well.
It was against India’s classy bowling attack he mustered his highest score in Test cricket, a gritty 63 at the MCG in December 2018.
Having recently plundered four sixes off a Jasprit Bumrah over in the IPL, Cummins admitted he’s never struck the cricket ball better in his career.
“I feel like I’ve been hitting the ball probably as well as I ever have,” Cummins said. “Hopefully I can transfer that over to the Test matches.
“I love batting. I enjoy being out there and keeping their bowlers out for longer, so hopefully I can do a bit of that this summer.”
Cummins is an ambassador for Hublot, a Swiss luxury watch company celebrating its 40th anniversary.
“It’s an honour to work with Hublot,” Cummins said. “They’ve been a big supporter of sport in Australia, in particular cricket.
“It’s a company I’ve really aligned with.”
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