Australia A in England 2013 May 10, 2013

Cummins to travel with Australia A to England


At 18, Pat Cummins made his Test debut in Johannesburg and was Man of the Match. There could hardly have been a more exciting prospect in Australian sport at the time. Eighteen months later and Cummins, who turned 20 last week, has not only failed to add another Test to that eye-catching performance at the Wanderers, he hasn't even played a first-class match since then. The teenager who looked like the future of Australian fast bowling has become its forgotten man.

But slowly Cummins is making his way back. He will travel with the Australia A party to England later this month, although he will not be part of the official squad, and is hoping to make a full return during the Australia A tour of South Africa in July. If he makes it through those trips without any setbacks, he could press for selection for the ODIs in England that follow the Ashes. But it won't be exactly the same Cummins who startled South Africa as a tearaway Test debutant.

After a foot injury ruled him out of most of the 2011-12 summer and a back stress fracture left him a spectator in 2012-13, Cummins knew that his bowling action would need to be assessed. He is now at the Centre of Excellence in Brisbane where he has been put through three sessions a week of bowling with a streamlined action that he, the bowling coach Troy Cooley, and Cricket Australia's medical staff hope can keep him fit and firing.

"It's been trying to straighten everything out in my action," Cummins told ESPNcricinfo. "Through a running coach I've been trying to fix my mechanics and be a more efficient runner in my approach to the crease, and then when I get to the crease trying to straighten out all the alignments. Hopefully it gets me a bit more swing and consistency.

"It's going against everything I've done for the last 20 years and trying to do something totally different. It's certainly been a little bit foreign, but at the same time I want to nail it down because I know it's going to turn me into a better bowler. It's exciting but at the same time it's challenging. You get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing improvements after every session.

"It should mean I can bowl the same pace, if not quicker, but hopefully I'll just be more efficient, which means I'll be able to bowl more consistently and for longer in a game. Hopefully I can turn my swing into more consistent swing instead of having some days where it's not swinging for me. It's about having a less injury-prone action but also about enhancing the performances."

Not surprisingly, Cummins is itching to bowl with the red ball in a match situation again. That opportunity could come in England; although he won't be part of the Australia A squad he might be used in their warm-up matches and he hopes there could be a chance to test himself in some league cricket during the trip. Of course, given his injury history, everything that Cummins or Cricket Australia says about his plans is prefaced with a "depending on..." or a "hopefully".

It had been hoped that he could return to the first-class scene at the start of the 2012-13 summer for New South Wales and that he would be in contention for the Tests against South Africa. He was building his workload back up during September and October as part of Australia's squad for the limited-overs games against Pakistan in the UAE, the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka and for the Sydney Sixers in the Champions League, but a stress fracture in his back ended his season.

"I really enjoy playing one-day and T20 cricket and I'd never want to give that away, but playing it for a couple of months made me realise how much I missed bowling with a red ball and building up a bowling innings," Cummins said. "At the end of it I really just wanted to try to get back to that.

"I think I played almost 20 Twenty20 games in a couple of months. I love playing it but I was really looking forward to playing Shield cricket after that. Unfortunately it didn't happen. The long-term goal is definitely to get back into the red-ball game with Shield matches for New South Wales and down the track Tests is the goal."

First, he'll have to keep himself fit enough to add to his 16 wickets from four first-class appearances. And having already experienced the thrill of Test cricket once in his short career, Cummins knows that sitting out of last season, even if his back soreness felt manageable, was the right decision in the long run.

"It's not acute pain but it's just something that's there," he said. "The nature of a stress-fracture injury is that there's a little crack and if you keep bowling it's going to turn into a big crack. It's one of those injuries that could turn into a massive injury if it's not managed."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Brenton on May 15, 2013, 12:02 GMT

    Give him time and don't rush him back. He won't be hitting his prime for another 3-4 years. It won't bother me if he only plays for NSW until he's 23 and by that stage Pattinson and Starc will have played 30 tests each. We may get a good 8 years of test cricket out of Cummins.

  • John on May 15, 2013, 3:19 GMT

    It's great to hear that Cummins is on the road to recovery. Whichever team you support, seeing outstanding young cricketers come through is one of the most exciting parts of the game. I hope he will make a full recovery and be able to resume his career as soon as possible.

    Cricket just can't afford to lose talent like his.

  • Dummy4 on May 12, 2013, 6:27 GMT

    @villageblacksmith.."clark completely overbowled cummo cos the other worldbeaters were bowling total rubbish... watch the test again and you will see."

    I dont dispute what you are saying but that doesnt clash with my earlier statements anyway, it merely adds credibility to them. For an 18 year old to carry the attack like that and be the decisive factor in the win on his debut and against the worlds best is an extroadinary feat. The way he roughed up Kallis and then fed him the perfect outswinger. The way he produced the perfect bouncer which whizzed past Philanders noze and brushed his glove and followed it up next ball with the perfect yorker to Morkel showed an innate ability to outfox the batsmen. To top it all off; he showed very good nerve to guide Australia home with the bat. It's not what he did but how he did it that convinced me and I dont think watching the highlights again will change my mind.

  • R on May 12, 2013, 3:30 GMT

    clark completely overbowled cummo cos the other worldbeaters were bowling total rubbish... watch the test again and you will see... and then patto gets 3 overs in india...?? strange... eng to lose at least 12-0 now cummo even to travel ...

  • Anupam on May 11, 2013, 18:14 GMT

    This is unfair if we compare current bowler and 4 years before bowlers. Now a days Fitness is a big issue, and number of games (international n Domestic), club level, different format is very high than earlier era. Current bowlers are more dynamic than previous.

  • Dummy4 on May 11, 2013, 15:55 GMT

    If you see the highlights of Pat Cummins in his first Test Match you'll see the bowling instincts and nouse of someone much more experienced than what he is. He is not just a tearaway but an instinctive, natural wicket taker more in the mould of McGrath or Warne than someone like Brett Lee. I compare him with Warne and McGrath because of his ability to think batsmen out, not because of his bowling style. Hisi instinctive wicket taking brain along with his pace and bounce make him the most exciting young bowling prospect in world cricket since Mohammed Aamir (without the match fixing).

  • Mashuq on May 11, 2013, 12:52 GMT

    @Ken McCarron on (May 10, 2013, 23:04 GMT), I watched his performance in JHB and it was absolutely thrilling. No predictions from me. My only wish is that he be handled with even more care than the others (whatever the experts reckon needs to be followed - just don't push him).

  • Dylan on May 11, 2013, 9:22 GMT

    @AKS286, actually Cutting and Faulkner both have much better FC records than List A. Bollinger is also a very good FC bowler. Cutting is an awful bowler in both List A and T20, but ironically he has represented Australia in both short forms, but not the long form.

  • Anupam on May 11, 2013, 5:43 GMT

    Australian team is having flood of good pace bowlers, Now, it is very difficult to for selectors to choose whom. Old guns are still Better. But, the talent management of Australia is very Poor. They can't utilize these Pace bowlers. Their selection basis is very also poor. Cutting, Faulkner, Starc,, Bollinger (i don't think he never make a comeback) are good in limited over not in test. SA is also producing good pacers but most of them are test bowlers and Aus is producing limited overs. When we talk about Pace bowling one bowler comes in our mind STEYN not only for his pace but also for his Fitness. Cummins has to learn from Steyn, Morkel. because Fast bowlers are like shooting stars. Injury is the downfall of them remember Bond. DE Lange also makes an exciting debut but injured.

  • Guy on May 11, 2013, 4:06 GMT

    @Yes_Valkyries, your comment is very strange. Firstly, @RandyOZ didn't say Pattinson and Cummins were the best bowlers in the world, just the fastest. I don't necessarily agree with him, but the point is no-one is arguing they are better than Steyn on this forum, so your comment is completely irrelevant. I have no idea what relevance your comparison of Starc, Faulkner and Praveen Kumar has either. And I'm not sure why talking about Cummins means people have somehow forgotten the other bowlers you mention. So, next time, try to stick to the point.

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