In recent times, Australia has struggled a lot to find a wicket-keeper and a genuine seamer with good batting abilities. While their search for a good keeper-batsman continues, they might just have found the answer to their quest for a genuine seam bowling all-rounder. Pat Cummins made his case to be considered as an all-round option with a fighting knock of 42 runs off 120 deliveries after coming out to bat at number 9 on the third day of the first Ashes Test at Brisbane.
Cummins had been on a hell of an injury ride for the last six years. A series of foot and back injuries turned out to be his nemesis after he shot himself to prominence with a ‘Man of the Match’ performance on his Test debut in South Africa back in 2011, for a fabulous spell of 6/79. He was only 18 then and didn’t play a test match again until the tour to India a few months back. Although he made sporadic appearances in the limited formats over that period of six years, injuries always hindered his progress.
However, it seems he has used that break from international cricket to good effect working, on his fitness and batting skills as well. Pat Cummins—the batsman—has garnered a lot of attention since the start of 2017. He hasn’t scored any big fifties or hundreds, but his response with the bat in crisis situations has been very impressive.
Pat Cummin, the batsman—has garnered a lot of attention since the start of 2017
Glimpses of his ability as a Test batsman were visible in Australia’s recent visit to Bangladesh on tough turning tracks. He spent quality time at the crease battling out 90 and 55 deliveries respectively for scores of 25 and 33* in the first and second innings respectively of the Dhaka Test match. More importantly, those were valuable runs at Number 8 considering the context of the match.
And he has followed that up with another gem of a contribution - an innings of 42 against England in what is his first Test match at home. And one should not forget his contribution of 3/85 with the ball as well. Such a good all-round performance has certainly set the Australian experts and selectors abuzz with the possibility of grooming Cummins into a genuine all-rounder.
“He’s got plenty of power but he has balance. No doubt he could be an all-rounder. I reckon he’s good enough to get a Test hundred,” Mark Taylor conveyed his thoughts on the Nine Network.
His improvement in batting hasn’t had any side effect on his bowling performance. Statistics of 24 wickets in six Test matches at a bowling average of 25.79 support that fact and so does scalps of 57 and 23 wickets in 36 ODIs and 18 T20Is respectively. And it seems that he would soon be promoted up the batting order if he continues his good performances with the bat.
All the improvement visible in his batting approach at present is due to the time he spent playing grade cricket as a batsman during his injury spell. His main motive is to play the game. It doesn’t matter to him if he is batting or bowling. Whatever he does he wants to make a match-winning contribution.
“I really enjoy batting, enjoy working on (that aspect of) my game. I just enjoy playing- so that’s another way to contribute. I’ve always enjoyed batting, so every opportunity I have to get a hit in the nets, work with coaches, bat in games, I will do,” Cummins had said in an interview with cricket.com.au back in 2014.
“I’d love to (to be considered a bowling all-rounder). It’s something that I’ll just have to wait and see about, but I’d love to try and contribute as much as I can. As a kid you want to do everything, and I’m no different now. I’d love to keep improving (my batting) and try and score valuable runs,” he had added.
The effort that he put in his batting has paid rich dividends for Cummins. He has a best score of 82* in first class cricket, one that he scored in a practice match before the Ashes in 2015 after Australia were in serious trouble at 74/5. His first class batting average of 26.25 also suggests that he can bat.
However, the main highlight was his performance in the Big Bash League 2016/17 where he scored 134 runs at 33.5 in 6 matches for the Sydney Thunders. Those runs included three scores of thirties batting at No.7 or lower after the top-order failed to perform. Apart from that, he also picked up 7 wickets during that time. He followed that up with scores of 36 and 27 batting at number 9 when the Australian batting lineup failed miserably on their tour to New Zealand earlier this year. With such performances, he is constantly knocking on the doors of the Australian selectors to be considered as a bowling all-rounder.
Pat Cummins scored 134 runs at 33.5 in 6 matches for the Sydney Thunders in the Big Bash League 2016/17
“The last probably three or four months I feel I’ve learnt a lot more about my batting,” Cummins had said in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this year.
Cummins, a 24-year old, is still young and has a fair number of years ahead of him to play. With him being in peak fitness and fine form with both bat and ball, the selectors should really think about promoting him up the batting order to see how it works out.