Pat Cummins has been rewarded for demolishing Sri Lanka. Picture: Getty
Pat Cummins has been rewarded for demolishing Sri Lanka. Picture: Getty

Cummins smokes Australia’s greatest bowlers

Pat Cummins has been somewhat anonymous until now. Polite, smiling, waiting to be given the ball when the openers are done, keen to impress after years in traction.

It's just dawning that he is also one of the best fast bowlers in the covered wicket era. One of the best in the world.

After 19 Tests he has 90 wickets. The only other Australian quick of the modern era to have done better was Jeff Thomson who had 91 (Stuart MacGill had 94 across the same period).

Sydney was his nadir. No wickets for the first time in his career and no fun as India confirmed its dominance. Brisbane, however, saw Cummins at his best. Cummins, 25, sought out help between Tests, tweaked a few things and took 10-62 - the best match figures of his career. He is now the third ranked bowler in world cricket behind Kagiso Rabada and James Anderson.

"I felt like I was in control of the seam pretty well," he said. "I didn't overly try and swing the ball, I felt like I was mainly in the game trying to nip it, especially around the wicket to the lefties, just trying to sit the seam up with the wobble and hope it takes every now and then and it seemed to. I did a bit of work the last couple of weeks trying to work on seam position and always trying to improve it."

There was a subtle shift in the order of things on the morning of the third day in Brisbane. The ball was only seven overs old at the start of play, but Cummins and Jhye Richardson were preferred to start with it. The night before Mitchell Starc had, as usual, been given first rites.

There's a feeling that after playing handmaiden to Starc and his various partners that it might be worthwhile giving it to Cummins while Starc finds his groove, but the 25-year-old says he is happy where he is.

"To be honest, I'm pretty happy with my role," he said. "I feel like our new ball bowlers have always done a really good job. When Starcy is on you just feel like he is going to rip through. You saw him against India, both their openers got dropped because we start off really well with the new ball and Jhye presents a beautiful seam. So, I'm always really happy to come on, itching to get the ball in my hand, but I am happy to wait a few overs."

Starc, it should not be forgotten, is among one of Australia's fastest by strike rate to 200 wickets. Cummins says his partner is also working on things.


Jeff Thomson in action in the late 70s.
Jeff Thomson in action in the late 70s.


"I think the good thing he is bowling really fast," he said. "So, his rhythm is mostly there. I know he has tried to change a couple of things in his run up and trying to get his feet aligned but he is not far away he has bowled some really good spells for us.

"The thing with Starcy, you always feel he is going to break open the game at any point so I think every time at training he is working at a few things and trying to get better I would love him to take a couple of wickets and click because I don't think he is far away."

It's hard for elite cricketers when things go wrong, but the bowlers are good at looking each other.

"I think we bowled the best that we have all summer (at the Gabba)," Cummins said. "I thought that we built pressure really well, lots of maidens, shut down the scoreboard and thankfully the wickets came because of that. I thought the wicket was an absolutely brilliant bowling wicket, I really enjoyed it out there."

"Yeah, this game we have got four bowlers in the attack so you always rally around each other but yeah, someone like Starcy has played a lot of cricket and now has 200 Test wickets so he is not far away," Cummins said. "He still bowls some really good spells for us and the way he batted for us last night was brilliant. So, yeah, we'll get around him but he's not far away."


Not even the great Shane Warne had as many wickets after 19 Tests. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Not even the great Shane Warne had as many wickets after 19 Tests. Picture: Phil Hillyard


Cummins was referred to during his injury years as 'Australia's highest paid university student' but come rankings time he is Australia's highest paid cricketer. With Steve Smith and David Warner downgraded he is the rarest of beasts: a brilliant three format cricketer.

Cummins was highest ranked in the last contract round and his manager is pushing for him to get a rare multi year contract this year, partly to encourage him to skip the IPL which could double his money but have an impact on his fitness.

"After the Manuka game there are two ODI tours and hopefully I am on them and a couple of T20s as well," he said. "ODIs are a lighter load than Tests and then most of April is off leading into the English summer so we'll wait and see. Hopefully, I will play most of those but I had a good two week break after the last series so I feel pretty fresh."

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