Pat Cummins may have played his last Test match back in 2011 against South Africa, but you wouldn’t know it the way he has bowled at the Indians in their first innings thus far.
In fact, Steve Smith and Virat Kohli did not have Test hundreds registered next to their names when Cummins last played. Yes, it has been that long.
A controversial selection
It was no doubt a controversial decision to pick the quick from New South Wales after Mitchell Starc was sent home due to injury, but he has proved to everyone (Yes, I still think Chadd Sayers was hard done by) that the selection panel made the correct call.
Cummins has ultimately come in and played the exact role as Starc was before his injury. He’s been the enforcer of the bowling attack and has complimented Josh Hazlewood superbly. Smith bowling Cummins in short spells has allowed him to get the best out of his quick.
Bowling with serious speed and variety currently sees him with four wickets next to his name, including the prized wicket of Kohli. He has used the short ball very well which has kept the Indian batsmen in two frames of mind. On a wicket that is not doing an awful lot, that’s exactly what you need to do. The most impressive aspect of his performance thus far is the fact he looks as if he hasn’t missed a beat. You see a lot of cricketers who make their return after such a long time out of the game look rusty, but Cummins has bucked that trend.
The Indians remain six down which should see Cummins go on and claim a five-wicket haul, and he certainly deserves it. The selectors took a gamble on Cummins and he has certainly repaid them at this moment and time. It easily could have backfired, but from what the cricketing public have seen, he has been more than impressive.
Crucial Cummins has big role to play
The approach Smith has taken with his young quick needs to be the approach going forward. He is less likely to break down if they keep bowling him in short spells and they will get a better quality spell in return. He tormented South Africa all those years ago, and now he is doing the same to the Indians.
If Australia are to go on and win the series, you cannot help but think this man will be crucial. The blow of Starc was huge and he was considered irreplaceable, but Cummins might have something to say about that.
One thing many people have not discussed is what this means for Jackson Bird. Going from the third quick in the Test side, he may not even get a look in now that Cummins is back in the fold. Also, the English may have their hands full come the next Ashes series. Michael Vaughan certainly thinks so anyway.
Nonetheless, Australia and Cummins will be focussed on the job at hand in Ranchi. The Test match very much looks as if it could be a draw which certainly would not be a bad result for Australia by any stretch of the imagination. Taking India to the final Test for the series in their own backyard is an achievement and Smith’s men will fancy themselves if that is to be the case. They’ve been brave thus far and have showed much more than any of the other touring teams in recent times. If they keep plugging away they’ll give themselves a great chance of a series win.
Do you think Pat Cummins has properly filled the void left by Mitchell Starc? Let us know in the comments below.