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The Dogged Pat Cummins

By Real11 - Jan 10 2023 347 Views
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Pat Cummins' unwavering commitment

Pat Cummins the bowler is easy to appreciate, if not adore. Perhaps even exalt in all his majesty. And there's never a shortage of amazing moments with the ball that will make you gasp. Take, for example, two examples from the recently finished Test summer in Australia.

In Perth, he clean-bowled a well-set West Indian captain to claim his 200th Test wicket. Patrick Perfection pitched middle, batted off. Then there was the yorker from around the wicket to Khaya Zondo a few days ago at the SCG. The setup was as spectacular as the knockout punch itself. Cummins, the captain, on the other hand, is still developing on you as quickly as he is growing as a captain. After all, it's been just over a year since he took over in dramatic circumstances following Tim Paine's departure.

England were so bad in his debut series in charge that Cummins said he wouldn't have learned as much about leadership during the Ashes as he did after Australia went overseas. He truly came into his own in Pakistan before expanding on it in Sri Lanka. But it's only in the last month and a half that the 29-year-old has begun to carve out a place for himself. Despite the fact that neither the West Indies nor South Africa put him through enough tests, this was the summer when you truly began to respect and adore Pat Cummins the skipper. It's safe to say that adulation is on the way.

Cummins the captain reminds me of Cummins the bowler. Certainly the tenacity. But also the patience and confidence that his best-laid ideas will be realised. "Composure" was a term he used frequently during his post-match interview. And calm is something he's demonstrated a lot on the field as the Australian Test team's captain. Then there's the certainty that the plan and tactics he's settled on for each fight will bear fruit, even if he has to wait for it at times.

This conviction has extended across the Australian camp, particularly among the bowlers, where there is an urge to never let the opposition's tactics derail your own or let yourself to depart from your plans because you believe the condition of the game requires it. We've already seen that wherever there is a collaboration, even on a flat surface, there is no fear in the ranks.

Cummins has also demonstrated a willingness to ease in and provide a bit more to those making their debuts or returning after a long absence. Like how he gave Mitch Swepson the last over of his maiden Test in Karachi when the prospects of victory appeared to be fading, or how he brought Ashton Agar back for a final stint in Sydney last week.

Not only do his views on society and the globe have a minimalist bent, but so does Cummins' approach to bowling and leadership. Cummins has never been the type of bowler who owns an infinite number of deliveries or depends on an infinite number of dismissals.

Instead, he limits his Plan A to striking out a certain batter. It's just that he's so talented at what he does with the ball that Plan A is nearly always sufficient. Simply ask Zondo and Brathwaite.

It's a characteristic of his captaincy that we've seen a lot of as he matures into the job. Especially in terms of his spinners. Mitchell Swepson, for example, was granted little more than a slip on the furious turner at Galle, almost as encouragement to resort to his most lethal weapons, the sharp-turning leg-break and the unexpected wrong-un. And it was effective.

Cummins was very honest about how little he knew about spin bowling after taking charge at the Gabba last summer and has since worked to improve his cricketing skills. Nathan Lyon enjoyed great success under Paine. But his confidence as a top spinner seems to have reached a level never seen before in the past year, despite playing 100 Tests before Cummins takes over at the end of 2021. Certainly, his way of reading the game. But it's the dogged honesty he shows in standing by his decisions that has stood out the most this season. And even more so because almost every call he made this summer went as expected. How to put the South Africans on a pitch that looked fit to bat first at the MCG. It was a move to exploit the weaknesses of the opposition and it worked. Although the opening partnership took 65 deliveries and Australia had just one calling card to back up the captain's call at the first drinks break. The winning inning in the bottom of Game was proof enough that Cummins paid right off. 

He even went with only four bowlers at the SCG because he read that the pitch might fall apart. He is not the reason why the sun did not shine until the last day of the exam. As the 5th day progressed, you already started to see its effects on the surface. Matt Renshaw's six over then was the security blanket that Cummins and the coaching staff felt they needed if the rain stayed away. What you expect from Cummins the bowler is that relentless intensity with the ball in hand. And it is the same from the first bullet of his spell to the last. The game never drifts when the Cummins bowler is in action. We have already seen that captain Cummins does not let the game drift either.  Until the last half hour of the last game day of the summer, he had all kinds of balls. Cummins believed he could still do it. So Australia believed. Until he decided that there was nothing left to play and shook hands with the South Africans. 

Cummins does nothing as a captain without the support of strategy. Be it every short ball he bowls or even how he finishes a DRS call. That doesn't mean his team never makes mistakes. But it's very rare that Cummins seems too quick or confused to judge. 

The solidity he brings to his role as captain is evident not only on the field, but also off it. The way he took the admiration of the Pakistani public and their cricket lovers and returned it in kind. He sensitively showed the impact of the terrible economic crisis that paralyzed daily life in Sri Lanka on millions of Sri Lankans who were brought to the brink of total collapse. It also makes this team much more in line with how the public wants them. Certainly, Justin Langer and Tim Paine at the helm of their run have made successful efforts to make Australians fall in love with the Australian team again.  But Cummins went a step further as a manager alongside coach Andrew McDonald, playing a style of cricket that means "playing hard cricket without having to play hard as a cricketer". face, but at the same time you know that they are always an opponent. And once they get their hands on the rope, they never let go. Now it is very clear that this is Pat Cummins' Australian team. That belief is what makes Cummins and his team so dangerous when they head to India to set the record straight against Australia, who haven't won a series there since 200. And if he can rally his top-class side over the line, the latest test of many of his top-class players to do so could safely be called the Pat Cummins era. 

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