It’s not an easy task for any young bowler, with an experience of a solitary game, to fill in the shoes of a frontline bowler in Test cricket. And, when that bowler is Mitchell Starc, the expectations automatically scales a newer high. Though one can take it as a challenge but it’s certainly a mountain to climb for him. After a mixed run in first two Tests, Australia had a believe and a hope of winning the Test, when calamity struck them inside out.
Their frontline pacer Mitchell Starc suffered a stress fracture on the right foot and was ruled out for the remainder of the series. Like many other games, luck does play a massive role in cricket. And this time, fortune favoured the brave Pat Cummins as the injury to Starc paved way for him. He wasn’t supposed to play this series and was not in the picture for it. But destiny had a lot of things waiting for the lanky pacer in India.
Starc has been Australia’s backbone with the ball and when Cummins got his only second Test call after almost five years, the pressure of delivering was colossal. But he didn’t falter, he soaked in all the pressure and came out with flying colours. After an awe-inspiring Test debut against South Africa, where he scalped seven wickets in the match, Cummins was expected to join the big league. And all this happened when he was just 18. But incessant injuries deprived him, from achieving fruitful results. In fact, his career has been hampered big time due to injuries.
The fact that, Cummins came into the series without any substantial four-day game practice is what makes his run outstanding. Actually, Cummins played his first Sheffield Shield game earlier this month almost after six years. Hypothetically speaking, Cummins has spent more time in nursing injuries rather than bowling on the field.
Australia have never been short of pace bowlers, they’ve always had it in surplus. This may be an advantage for the team, but it simultaneously builds a competition between the bowlers too. In cricket, there are very few things as fascinating as fast bowling. Be it any team, it doesn’t matter. Pure pace from a bowler from either side is just mesmerising to watch. And Cummins is one bowler, who clocks some serious speed with consistency, which he did in two appearances.
When Cummins landed in India, many random thoughts would have popped up in his mind and the burden of doing well was always mounting. But at the completion of the series, he would certainly be in high spirits with his performance. It was a gamble to rope in Cummins as a replacement for Starc, which eventually paid off. Cummins sent all doubts and dilemma to rest after a solid pace bowling display at Ranchi. He lived up to the expectations and inflicted similar damage as Starc would have on a batting-friendly pitch. Cummins extracted enough from the surface, which was more conducive for spin bowling. And in doing so, he also won thousands of hearts from both the countries, while few eyebrows will be raised in England with Ashes being few months away in Australia.
Cummins sent all doubts and dilemma to rest after a solid pace bowling display at Ranchi.
He lived up to the expectations and inflicted similar damage as Starc would have on a batting-friendly pitch. Cummins extracted enough from the surface, which was more conducive for spin bowling. And in doing so, he also won thousands of hearts from both the countries, while few eyebrows will be raised in England with Ashes being a few months away in Australia.
— ⓢⓗⓘⓜⓐⓝⓣⓞ (@imshimanto) March 18, 2017
After an impressive comeback at Ranchi, where he bagged four wickets, including the likes of Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, it was time for Cummins to put up a hostile bowling show at Dharamsala. On a hard bouncy surface, Cummins bowled with a big heart. He was quick, terrifying and ruthless. Cummins scalped three wickets as India were decimated for 332, in response to Australia’s 300. His figures might have been different had the catches in slip cordon cupped and few half-chances grabbed.
The best thing about Cummins is his ability to produce wicket-taking deliveries on a regular basis, even on a docile surface. Just like him imminent peers (Starc and Hazlewood), Cummins keeps hitting the right areas and gets the odd breakthrough every now and then. Cummins is a kind of a bowler, who can also conjure a wicket of a bad delivery. Since he bowls with so much consistency that the batsman is always under the impression of a good one.
Not every day we see a batsman speaking highly about an opponent bowler and the difficulties he had in confronting his deliveries out in the middle. But on this occasion, Rahul, who has been the man in form, expressed his views on the spell by Cummins and Hazlewood. Cummins had a go at Rahul and tested his abilities with sheer pace and bounce. Rahul also got a reprieve early on in the innings, when Renshaw made a mess of a healthy outside edge at first slip. Rahul was quoted in a report from PTI saying, “Josh and Cummins in the first session, I can say, is the toughest (spell of fast bowling) I have faced in Test cricket so far. They put the ball in the right areas and they swung the ball bowled with a lot of pace and venom.”
Very aggressive spell from @patcummins30 picking up the big wicket of KL Rahul
— Michael Clarke (@MClarke23) March 26, 2017
In the Dharamsala Test, his spell exhaled fire and Cummins looked much fitter than before. Cummins kept troubling Rahul in an intense battle between them and eventually got rid of him with a fiery bouncer. Rahane was initially finding it difficult but was lucky to get away. Renshaw once again denied Cummins a wicket when Saha was dropped at first slip.
Later, Cummins bounced back with the wickets of Ravindra Jadeja and Saha in quick succession to put India on the back foot. Cummins set Jadeja up with a lot of short pitched stuff and then bowled a widish delivery, which he inside edged onto the stumps. Jadeja was surely taken for a surprise as he was anticipating a bouncer. Saha got a brutal delivery, which took off from the length and he had to get his bat on the way. Smith cupped a beauty at second slip and ended Saha’s run, something which Renshaw will take a note from.
Australia saw a dramatic collapse in the second innings, which indubitably ended their golden chance to seal the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. But Cummins has exhibited some serious pace bowling with meticulousness.
If he can do this on pitches, which were more inclined towards batting though Dharamsla had some help for the seamers, imagine the kind of damage he is capable of inflicting on seam-friendly wickets. If injuries cease, Cummins will certainly pose a huge threat across formats and Australia will undoubtedly have a formidable bowling attack with Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins putting in the hard yards together.