Interview by Rvel Zahid
Aaron Summers is a young rising star from Australia; the right-arm pacer was part of the Pakistan Super League 2019 and represented Karachi Kings but surprisingly didn't get picked by any franchise for the next year's PSL fiesta in Pakistan despite his ability to dart 150kph snorters, hurl brutal bouncers, canny slow balls and the yorker - which is still a work in progress - but Summers is sanguine about his chances in the upcoming editions and has pleasant memories from his first experience of playing in Pakistan's premier T20 competition that had a profound impact on the tearaway fast bowler.
Aaron talked exclusively to Cricingif about his disappointment after not getting drafted for the PSL 2020, his future plans, what changes he has made to his bowling over the past few months, popularity of sports in his household and he reflected on various facets of fast bowling.
How disappointed are you after not getting picked in PSL 5 draft, especially considering how you were tipped as the pick of the PSL 4?
Yeah, naturally I am pretty disappointed that I didn't get picked up in the PSL draft this year. I really enjoyed myself in the whole PSL experience last year and I felt very welcomed by the Pakistani locals and the support staff and everyone that was involved in the tournament. I wanted to come back again this year and extend on the two games I got to play last year. It's disappointing because I got two games in Dubai and I didn't get the opportunity to play in front of Pakistani supporters. I thought Pakistani wickets would have offered me a bit more and I would be more effective there but I am only 23 so I got plenty more years and hopefully, I'll get another chance sometime.
Which areas of bowling have you worked of late and what were the major takeaways from the first experience of PSL?
T20 game is always evolving and as a bowler, you have to always improve and learn new tricks and upskill yourselves. You need to have a really reliable yorker. In my late overs, when I am bowling at the death, I do get the ball to reverse swing so if I am able to hit my yorkers whenever I want, I reckon that will really be a good skill that will take me to the next level. I am also working a bit on my slow ball which I feel like is very effective and [working on] hard length stuff as a real go-to-ball to get cramped people up.
You got only two games in the PSL 4 and remained wicketless in both games on slow surfaces although you bowled economically against Qalandars, do you think you might have acclimatized to the conditions and found the right lengths and lines if given more games and time?
All bit of a learning curve. It was my first time playing cricket overseas, definitely first time being in Dubai and so I would hope, naturally, I would have got acclimatized and become better at bowling at those surfaces and I felt like I picked up little things every time I trained and every time I played and watched games there so I felt like I would have got better the more I played on them and I would have been more suited to playing the game in Pakistan, in Karachi, in the backend of the PSL.
Fans in Pakistan have grown up watching the likes of Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar and Waqar Younis and there's is nothing that exhilarates fans quite like sheer pace. Would you like to bowl in front of raucous crowds in Pakistan and regal them with your pace?
One thing I realise Pakistanis really do like their pace bowlers and how excited they were to see the likes of Musa [Khan] and [Mohammad] Hasnain and Naseem [Shah] and all the young fast bowlers that are coming through right now. So pretty disappointed I didn't get the chance to bowl at Karachi. Supporters are very excited so it would have been awesome to bowl in a game. Inshallah, I [will] get to play [there] one day, hopefully, PSL 6 or PSL 7 or one of the future editions so fingers crossed.
What are your expectations from PSL 5 and your message to fans in Pakistan?
I expect PSL 5 to be a very good tournament. Obviously, they are gonna be playing in Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi so it will be awesome for the Pakistani fans to finally get the whole tournament back in Pakistan and I reckon the Pakistani players would obviously love being at home and the fans would love it even more so I think it's really going to be well-watched tournament and well-supported tournament by local fans and I expect it to be really entertaining.
I am gonna be looking forward to watching my former teammates of the Karachi Kings and see how the team go and also see Colin Ingram, Colin Munro, Liam Livingstone, Ben Dunk, Ravi Bopara and all the guys who have moved onto other franchises, looking forward to seeing how they go as well. And my message to the fans, thanks for all the support from last year and all the continued support on the Instagram, Twitter and et cetera and Inshallah I will be back in the PSL one day, get to play in front of all the fans in Pakistan.
Summers at a net session with his former Karachi Kings teammates
Do you think it is tough to bowl in T20 format because of the batting powerplay, the fearless approach of the batsman, and their willingness to improvise and try out of the box shots; do you think that the game is titled more in favour of a batsman?
It's tough as a bowler in the T20 format. I think there are a lot of factors in T20 format that normally favours the batsman and it's pretty tough for the bowlers but that's cricket I guess. As a bowler, you have to find ways to get around and to improvise, adapt as well and get better. I think that's just the perception of bowlers has changed a little bit in the past. If you went for 0/35 off your four overs, it was classed as a bad game but if both sides are making over 200 runs, that's [expensive figures] now classed as a good game. So I think you have to understand what your role is in the team and execute and then you know if you have done your job or not.
You bowled Babar Azam in the nets recently, who was your teammate in Karachi Kings, during Pakistan tour of Australia. How good was he in the Test series? Also, how was the experience of catching up with your franchise teammates?
It was awesome to get the opportunity to catch up with my Karachi teammates and also some of the other Pakistani players. It was good to be able to bowl, mingle with Pakistani Test side. I know a lot of boys there recognised me from the PSL and all of them were welcoming and came up and said 'hello' and asked how is it going and if I was in the draft and all that.
It was good to spend some time with them and it was good to see Babar bat well in the Test series and also the T20 series. He is obviously a class player and I reckon he is just starting to get where he wants to be in terms of consistency and really fulfilling his potential so I reckon it's going to be big next few years for Babar; definitely Test cricket, I know his One day cricket and T20 cricket has been really solid so it will be good to see him really take off in Test cricket and really be up there with the likes of Joe Root, Virat Kohli and Steve Smith.
What is your take on the notion that increasing pace compromises the ability to swing the ball, do you agree with that?
It's a common perception that the quicker you bowl, the less chance you have swinging the ball but I don't think that's completely true. You see blokes like Mitchell Starc, Brett Lee, Dale Steyn, obviously, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis and all these guys bowl 140+ and could still swing the ball so it all depends on your wrist position and a lot of mechanics to your bowling. I don't think necessarily that fast bowlers can't swing the ball but for the ones that can, normally have very good careers and then also I reckon you have to bowl fast to be able to reverse swing the ball. I guess the perfect bowler is someone that can swing the ball, bowl fast, and also reverse swing the ball.
Ryan Haris - who was part of the backroom staff for the recent series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan - rates you highly and has been a fan of your pace and was impressed when he first saw you at Bupa National Cricket Centre. What has been Ryan's role in your development as a bowler?
Yeah, to be honest, I haven't seen Ryan or worked with Ryan since the day I was flown into the Bupa centre in Brisbane so I couldn't tell you what Ryan's opinions are on me or how highly he rates me but I know at the time when I was at the Bupa centre, he was pretty impressed with the pace I was bowling at and I was very raw back then so very thankful for him giving me the opportunity to go to Brisbane and be able to bowl with Australia A side and national performance side and put my name up in lights; it really did kickstart my career.
What are the key elements of bowling at a rapid pace and in the late 140s, is there any special training involved? The other day I was listening to Shaun Tait who said you really have to hurt your body to clock 150kph or above that mark so is it something that is not everyone's cup of tea and does it take a toll on your body when you bowl at such searing pace?
Bowling at 145-150kph is definitely not for everyone and it's something that physically a lot of people can't actually do no matter how much training you put in all that. It's just something that you are born to be able to do or you are not. And if you are born to be able to do it, you have to work really hard to be able to do as well so it's definitely not everybody's cup of tea. In terms of what you need to do to be a good fast bowler, there's a lot of technical things that you have to get going in terms of your hip and shoulder separation, your front leg block and how much momentum you get coming to the crease and as well as your arm speed. And Shaun Tait was certainly right in saying that it hurts when you bowl 150kphs. I know when I bowl at my absolute quick, I have definitely woken up with a sore neck, with kinda like a whiplash. I know Shaun had got really sore elbows et cetera and people have got sore ankles as well so that's definitely not for everyone and it's really tough to be able to bowl fast.
Your brother Dawson is a professional baseball player and you have played many sports yourself so is sports part of the family culture and popular in the household?
Yeah, I grow up in a sporty household, mom and dad both played winter and summers sports; grown up as a kid and got to watch him (Dad) and Dad's 61 now and he still plays softball year-round so he is still heavily involved in sport and mom still plays softball as well. Dawson was lucky enough as a 17-year-old to make his debut for the Perth A in the Australian baseball league, which is a professional baseball competition in Australia. Since then, he hasn't got the opportunity again and baseball has kind of taken the backfoot now for work, he's really focused on work. He didn't get signed in the major league baseball or anything like that so hasn't really progressed the way he would have liked with his baseball which is a bit unfortunate.
I feel like playing a wide range of sports growing up was really beneficial in the long run. I think that a lot of skills that you learn in other sports can be transferred into cricket, definitely, baseball, softball, hitting the ball, hand-eye coordination, learning how to throw properly and all that kind of stuff is beneficial.
Aaron Summers present at Sindh chief minister dinner party during PSL 4
With Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins seemingly at the pinnacle of their career coupled with a star-studded batting line-up, do you think Australia are hot favourites to clinch T20 World Cup 2020 and ICC Test Championship title?
Yeah, I feel like Australia are in a good position to win both the T20 world cup and Test championship Obviously, we could play different side now that [David] Warner and Smith have both returned. Historically, we haven't done too well in T20 world cups. And a lot of the time, the Test players don't play the T20s and they usually sit out or rest the T20s. I think Australia starting to play their best side in the T20s leading up to world cup and I reckon if they find the right fit and players like [Pat] Cummins and [Mitchell] Starc and [Steve] Smith and [David] Warner and they all get to play T20 internationals leading up to the Worldcup, I feel like they will be definitely one of the favourites or the favourite heading into the WorldCup in Australian conditions. We saw how good Australia were in home conditions in 2015 in the one-day world cup.
Is there any special joy in bowling fast that makes you go through all the drills and training to bowl at such rapid pace?
Yeah, there really is joy in fast bowling. I speak to a lot of batsmen and they love to hit the ball and they love the sound of bat on ball and hitting a perfect cover drive and same is for fast bowler; you just love to be able to bowl quick and see the ball travel fast and smack the bat and have that pace and carry and unsettle players and be aggressive and attacking and break the game open and win a game for your team. It makes it all worth, you know all the travelling and drill, gym work and the conditioning they have to do to be able to play and bowl fast and see 140, 147, 150 kph come up on the screen, yes it's really exciting and makes it all worthwhile.
Is it different while bowling with a new and old ball, what adjustments do you make and how does it affect your pace?
There is definitely a difference with the new and old ball in terms of pace. The new ball, if you are a swing bowler or if you get any movement at all, you gonna get it with a new ball and you are going to get more pace with the new ball. It's gonna carry better and you are gonna get more zip off the wicket. Same is with the batsman, I know a lot of opening batters like facing the new ball because you can hit the ball further and the ball travels quicker just like it is when you are bowling. Benefit with the old ball is [that] it's harder to hit for the batsman and doesn't go as far and sometimes when you ball off-pace deliveries, you are gonna have more chance of getting wickets caught in the outfield because the ball is softer and it doesn't go as far and if you can get ball to reverse swing, you sometimes don't mind bowling with the old ball as well [chuckles].