Pat Cummins loves to fare well in Johannesburg….
Cummins shares a special bond with Johannesburg; his both the best performances – with the bat and ball has come at this venue. He has grown in stature, he was tipped to be one of the next big things in Australian cricket after that memorable debut at a tender age. He claimed a fifer on his maiden Test outing, but his injury-prone body didn’t let him achieve fruitful dividends. He always had this express pace and good control, but fitness is pivotal in a fast bowler’s career, which was lacking in Cummins case.
In Test cricket, very few things are as mesmerising as watching a fast bowler put in the hard yards in full steam. The joy watching him make the ball talk is humongous. With an easy action and pace that can make a batting attack look like sitting ducks, Cummins belongs to this rare breed of pace bowlers.
After being on the sidelines for years, Cummins played his second Test against India in 2017. He did well there and looked in good rhythm in Bangladesh as well, where there wasn’t enough assistance for seamers. Signs of his evolution as a bowler were quite evident. He may not have sparkling numbers under his belt, but was quite effective, which made him an obvious pick for the iconic Ashes.
The repository of selector’s faith found form at a pivotal time as Cummins went on to chip 23 wickets in the Ashes and inflicted immense damage with his sheer pace and guile. He gelled well with Starc and Hazlewood to form the formidable pace troika. There is hardly any breathing space for the opponent when these three men are putting in the hard yards together.
In the ongoing series, the ball-tampering incident hogged all the headlines in the recent times. Australian cricket is certainly going through a rough patch and the final Test at Johannesburg was always going to be a mountain to climb not only psychologically, but also on the field. South Africa were ahead with a healthy 2-1 lead and the visiting side need a win desperately to square the series.
Mitchell Starc has been Australia’s pace spearhead and his mistimed injury before the final Test was a huge blow. Australia had a huge gap to fill and Chad Sayers was roped in as a replacement of Starc. In the absence of the lanky left-arm pacer, Australia needed either Josh Hazlewood or Pat Cummins to step up and deliver.
After a tough day on the field, Australian seamers pulled things back in the final session of Day 1. Cummins was the pick of the bowlers with three big fishes in his net on Day 1. The next day, he went on to claim his second Test fifer after getting rid of Keshav Maharaj and Morne Morkel. Cummins has fond memories of this venue, as this is also the ground where he made his fascinating Test debut.
“It’s good to see him get five wickets today. He’s probably deserved that in many Tests this series. He’s bowled some spells this series that are as good as any bowler has bowled for Australia before,” Australian bowling coach David Saker was quoted in a report from foxsports.com.au.
For now, Cummins has two fifers in Test cricket, which he has belted at the same venue. Cummins said, “It definitely feels a long time ago. The boys have been getting into me, that I only take five-for here at this ground. It’s been a pretty long couple of days, so I’m not sure if it’s right up on my favourites list at the moment.
Cummins has now been a regular part of the Australian pace attack and looks as fit as a horse. Saker shed some light on his fitness and said, “He’s backed it up now for probably over 12 months. He’s now trusting his body, which is great for him. There were times when he would have found that playing a game of cricket was going to be a worry, because he thought he was going to break down.
Cummins has been very handy with the bat, in fact, saying that he has been handy would be an understatement. His average of 21.41 may not look very impressive, but one just cannot ask more from a specialist bowler. He remained unbeaten on Day 2 and had a massive task in hand on Day 3. Cummins stuck to his guns and came out hard to record his maiden Test fifty on a pitch, where most of his imminent peers failed to get going. He accounted for a crucial 99-run stand with Tim Pane and avoided an early Australian collapse.
Cummins has been the man for Australia in this Test; he steamed in and accounted for two more wickets in the second innings. As of now, Australia are in hot water and a massive target looks imminent for them in the fourth innings. Cummins continues to grow in stature as an all-rounder, he looks rock-solid and the confidence is only growing. He is well capable of leading the pace attack, which is only adding fuel to Australia’s bowling firepower. Johannesburg has been Cummins’ venue, he has set the stage on fire and Australia will be hoping for him to wreak havoc on Day 4 and dismantle South Africa as early as possible.