The Ashes is just a couple of weeks away and both the teams are gearing up for the biggest Test rivalry known to mankind. With the series being played in Australia, the home side certainly stand a good chance of winning the series and regain the precious Urn. Australia go into the series as favourites and the key reason behind them having an upper-hand is their dominant pace attack.
Australia does have a few issues to be addressed in their batting order, but their incredible pace troika of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cumins give them an edge and certainly covers up on that front. Starc and Hazlewood have been a force to be reckoned in these formats. And Australian conditions, which provides pace and bounce, will certainly aid their style of bowling. The latest addition of Pat Cummins to this attack will only strengthen it, he is the man to watch out for in this series.
Earlier, Australia did intend to go all guns blazing and play four seamers, but an injury to James Pattinson has certainly disrupted their plans. Despite the latter’s absence, Australia still have a lot of firepower in their cannon to take down the English line-up. They are yet to announce their squad for the big battle, but Cummins’ presence is certainly assured.
Pat Cummins boasts of some alarming pace and control with the red cherry, but incessant injuries have often hampered his career big time. He marked his Test debut on a high, picking six wickets against South Africa in the second innings back in November 2011, but didn’t feature in any Test after that and injuries had a huge role to pay behind his absence. He then returned against India earlier this year after almost six years. His career graph has been on a hike since his return and has been brimming with energy.
Cummins played four games since his return to the Australian Test side, two against India and the rest against Bangladesh. On sub-continent pitches, Cummins produced fantastic spells and earned accolades for his immaculate control and genuine pace. At Ranchi, in his comeback Test, he did well to have four Indian scalps in the first innings and continued his good form at Dharamsala as well, where he picked four wickets from both the innings.
Cummins wreaked havoc with the new ball at Dhaka in the opening Test against Bangladesh. He steamed in and bowled with immense confidence to pick three Bangladeshi wickets. To many, this was one of the best new ball spells in the sub-continent. Most importantly, Cummins was recalled as a replacement for injured Mitchell Starc, and the lanky bowler did the job and lived up to the expectations. Also, he was the only pacer to play the Chittagong test, which is a testament to his evolution and how far he has come as a bowler.
The question is, when Cummins can do well on the sub-continent pitches, then how impactful could he be in Australia? He is yet to play a Test match on the home soil, but looks all set to make a memorable Test debut at home. Australian conditions will suit his bowling and he did play domestic games to get used to the conditions. One can expect him to do well and extract help from the surfaces. He was also given a break from the Twenty20 International (T20I) series against India to focus on his preparations for the Ashes.
Cummins is one of the best short ball bowlers in contemporary cricket, he has a good bouncer in his artillery. He has an intimidating body language. The 24-year-old has already warned England to expect a plethora of short-pitched deliveries in the series. He was quoted in a report by Dailymail. co. UK saying, “Hope you practice your bouncers because we’ll be bowling a lot of them.”
“No one really likes it if you’ve got real pace and real accuracy, especially those kind of guys. They play of slower wickets, not as much bounce, so over here and in South Africa as well, it’s one of our biggest strengths. I think trying to make it as different to their home conditions as possible and normal bouncy, fast wickets and short balls are definitely that. Hopefully, the wickets have a bit of pace and bounce in them, there’s nothing like getting your adrenaline up and then running in trying to bowl short.”
Although it would be a bit early to say this, but Cummins is well capable of having the kind of impact Mitchell Johnson had in the Ashes 2013-4. He single-handedly ripped apart the English line-up and kept the tempo of the team up with his mind-boggling pace and bounce. Australia clean swept England in the five-match series and Johnson played a huge role in this scintillating victory.
Cummins has the required pace and can have a huge impact with his skills. Although he does not have a massive Test experience, but his recent performances have been impressive. About playing Johnson’s role in the side, Cummins said, “ To watch Johno do what he did, kept the whole morale of the side and Australia up against the Poms almost single-handedly. It shows the importance a really quick bowler can have and hopefully one of us three or four guys can do a similar job. I’d love to play that role. I think we’re lucky that there’s a few of us who are all pretty tall and get a bit of bounce and like to bowl with a lot of pace.”
The anticipation for the Ashes is on a high with every day passing by. Cummins is brimming with energy and confidence, he will look to come out all guns blazing in his maiden Ashes. The series opener starts on November 23 in Brisbane and all eyes are set at the iconic venue. Cummins has been a promising candidate and this series is certainly his golden opportunity to achieve stardom.