The 2019 Ashes series will be remembered for the triumphant return of Australian prodigal son Steven Smith, and to a lesser extent Ben Stokes’ Headingley heroics. But one person who shouldn’t be forgotten is Pat Cummins. In a series that has seen
The 2019 Ashes series will be remembered for the triumphant return of Australian prodigal son Steven Smith, and to a lesser extent Ben Stokes
’ Headingley heroics. But one person who shouldn’t be forgotten is Pat Cummins. In a series that has seen Australia’s fast bowling line-up chop and change from Test to test, Cummins has remained the one constant. Coming into the final Test in a series that has been bowler-dominated, Cummins tops the charts with 24 wickets, five more than the English veteran fast bowler Stuart Broad. As an Australian fan, you could well argue that without Cummins Australia would not be in the box for its first overseas Ashes series win since 2001. It is easy to get lost among the big name stars in world cricket, the likes of Jasprit Bumrah
and Jofra Archer are getting most of the plaudits and limelight, and deservedly so – both are seriously good cricketers in their own right. But flying under the radar to the casual fan is newly crowned world number one bowler Cummins. After Cummins burst onto the Test match scene all the way back in 2011 taking seven wickets on his Test debut, it was clear he had what it takes to perform on the big stage. The only real question was whether his body would hold up to the grind of Test cricket. Fast forward eight years after a series of back injuries and gruelling periods of rehabilitation, Cummins has finally got his body right and has played in all of Australia’s last ten Test matches. In his 24 Test match career to date Cummins has taken 118 wickets at an astonishing average of 21.08. Although it’s still relatively early days in his career, these numbers compare very favourably with some of the game
’s greats, Curtly Ambrose (405 wickets at 20.99) and Glenn McGrath (563 wickets at 21.64) to name a few. Of course, Cummins has a long way to go to reach the lofty heights of the aforementioned greats of the game
, but the upward trajectory of his career suggests that this is not out of the equation by any means. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images) Now that Cummins has had a sustained run in the Test team, his bowling has gone from strength to strength. Very rarely does he bowl a poor spell and he is now the man skipper Tim Paine calls upon first when Australia need a wicket. Cummins was the standout bowler in the Manchester
Test just gone, claiming the first four wickets of the final innings to break the back of English resistance. His delivery to knock over Joe Root just before the close of play on the fourth day will be one that lives in Australian fans’ memories for years to come. Cummins was unable to claim that elusive five-wicket haul which remarkably he has only achieved four times in his short but brilliant career to date. That seems an injustice for someone who has bowled so well, but that almost sums up his career perfectly. Cummins isn’t the man to take huge bags of wickets, his method is more death by a thousand cuts. Rather than attack with pure pace and aggression trying to blow the batsman away, Cummins method is more to work over the batsman looking for any weakness is technique or temperament. Often this can lead to rewards for the bowler at the other end. But don’t let his lack of five-wicket hauls fool you, Cummins is still a prolific wicket-taker, he just does it more in a consistent manner rather than the big flash in the pan performances. Cummins’ ability to perform innings in innings out which sets him apart from the rest. In his last eight Test matches, Cummins averages 3.13 wickets per innings. To provide some context to those figures, if you average that over a hundred Test matches you are looking at approximately 620 wickets. Of course, whether or not he plays that many Tests remains to be seen, but over a short sample size he certainly matches it with the greats in terms of the numbers. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi) If we ignore that statistical side of things and just judge performance purely to the naked eye, it is clear to see that Cummins is getting better every Test he plays. He is bowling longer spells with sustained pace and accuracy and now has the armoury to get batsmen out in a variety of ways. There is no discernible difference in quality between his first spell and his fourth. Cummins has the ability to bowl the short rising ball, the ability to swing the ball both old and new and, as Joe Root knows all too well, he can also move the ball off the seam. There aren’t too many cricketers around who possess the full skill set and can execute the bowling plans on such a consistent basis. The fact that Cummins continues to get better and succeed in all conditions is what makes him so good to watch and so hard to face. This is the reasoning that has seen Cummins gain the unofficial title of “leader of the Australian attack”. In series gone by that title would have gone to Mitchell Starc, but such is Cummins’ consistency and reliability he has earned the right to be both the leader of the Australian attack and world number one bowler. At age 26 with his body finally holding up to the rigours of Test match cricket, the next five years hold endless possibilities for Cummins. While as we all know nothing is guaranteed in cricket, especially when it comes to fast bowling, we could very well be watching a great in the making, so let’s sit back and appreciate the beauty of fast bowling.