Australia news August 19, 2013

Another long injury lay-off for Cummins

41

Fast bowler Pat Cummins is set to miss a third consecutive home summer with a recurrence of his lower back stress injury. Cummins, 20, made his long-awaited return to first-class cricket on the Australia A tour of Zimbabwe and South Africa over the past month but after taking five wickets in two first-class games, and none in a 50-over match, he was sent home early with back trouble that has proven serious.

"Pat returned home early from the Australia A tour of South Africa with some side/back soreness and scans have shown a partial recurrence of his lower back bone stress injury suffered in October last year when he returned home from Champions League," CA chief medical officer, Justin Paoloni, said. "He will be closely monitored to determine his return to the playing field, but expect that he will miss most of the 2013-14 domestic cricket season."

Cummins has been plagued by injuries, particularly back and foot problems, since he was Man of the Match on his Test debut in Johannesburg, where he claimed seven wickets in Australia's memorable victory in November 2011. The injuries have been so persistent that Cummins had been unable to add to his first-class tally of four matches until the recent A series in Africa, and he has not played a Sheffield Shield match since March 2011.

The management of Cummins has become a major issue for Cricket Australia's management and medical staff, who seem uncertain as to whether more bowling or less is the answer to strengthening his developing body. He returned home from his maiden Test tour in 2011 with a foot injury and a back stress fracture ruling him out of the 2012-13 home summer, and his only cricket of note in the past couple of years has been in the shorter formats.

Last June, Cummins was part of Australia's one-day international campaign in England but was sent home with a side strain, and he returned in September for T20s against Pakistan in the UAE and the World Twenty20 that followed. However, Cummins went straight on to the Champions League T20 in South Africa in October last year and returned home with the back problem that ended his home summer before it began.

Cummins travelled with the Australia A squad to England in May this year as a non-playing member of the group as Australia's management aimed to reintegrate him back into the mix. At the time, Cummins said that he had worked with a running coach in an effort to fix the mechanics of his action and straighten out the alignment of his body, hoping to place less stress on his back.

"It's going against everything I've done for the last 20 years and trying to do something totally different," Cummins told ESPNcricinfo at the time. "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."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • landl47 on August 19, 2013, 13:39 GMT

    Some people just aren't lucky enough to have bodies that hold up under extreme stress- the kind of stress that comes from bowling 90+mph. It's nobody's fault; no matter what the training regime, if your body breaks down under pressure then it's very hard to fix.

    I hope Cummins, as he gets older, is able to bowl without hurting himself. He looked a very special talent in the brief time he played at top level. However, as Richard Hadlee rightly says in his excellent article on Cricinfo, there's life after cricket to be considered. Being a the fastest bowler in the world for a few years is not worth being in a wheelchair at 40, and back problems can do that to you.

  • on August 19, 2013, 10:04 GMT

    This frquent injury lay-offs r frustrating not only 2 the players, but to the fans as well. the moment v come across an exciting pace bowler barely in their 20's. its surprising that they r off due to some niggle after playing just a fortnight of cricket. This is very absurd given the amount of support staff every inter'tional teams have at their disposal. The concerned boards should look into the root of the problem irt player's fitness, bowling action/ other reasons rather than any quick-fix solutions to such recurring niggles. The yesteryr players of the game esp bolwers also have a role 2 play.

  • hyclass on August 22, 2013, 10:55 GMT

    When Cummins was selected as a teenager, with 3 or 4 1st Class games to his credit, I opposed his selection on this basis and suggested that the likely outcome was injuries that would plague or finish his career early. He was recovering from injury after having played in the Shield Final. Far from it being no-ones' fault, I very clearly lay the blame at the feet of CA. The idea that a kid who has experienced 4 x 4 day games ever would be capable of playing multiple 5 day games is very poorly considered. 4 Day Shield is a big step up from 2 day club cricket. Test cricket requires 20% more than Shield. What needed to happen was what had most often happened in the past-that rather than choosing on a whim, age, technique or any other criterion, that players be chosen only on long term results, as was the case during Australia's great period. Then when chosen, they were to be left to play their own way and sink or swim on merit. This has not been the case for the last 5 years, thanks to CA

  • on August 21, 2013, 10:02 GMT

    All three of his season ending injuries have come after playing in South Africa (debut test, champions trophy, this australia A tour). I think the solution to his injuries is simple - Stop sending him to play in South Africa!

  • scarab666 on August 20, 2013, 7:06 GMT

    Tomas Anderson has got it right and I've been saying for a longtime now that Cummins action is poor. Either he corrects his action or retires because at the moment he is of no use to the Australian team....he breaks down too often to the pressures of International cricket. Apart from his action Cummins also has had little grade cricket experience to develop his body to the rigours of Men's cricket.....another negative to Australia's fast tracking of junior talent.

  • Liquefierrrr on August 20, 2013, 1:17 GMT

    @200ondebut - just to be clear, we are speaking of the same quicks that have achieved the following this series:

    Kept the following English batsmen quiet (Pietersen - avg. 34.50, Cook - avg. 27.25, Trott - avg. 24.25, Prior - avg. 14.33).

    And whose front-line pace bowlers have snared 54 wickets @ 27.43, compared to England's 46 @ 29.89?

    The one thing Australia, undeniably, has presently is a vast amount of high quality quick bowlers. Cummins is merely a piece within that jigsaw, a big piece, but no bigger or more promising than any of the other young fast bowling talent we have.

    Now our batting and spin bowling - THAT is something you'd be within rights to 'tease' us about. Claire, aside Amla, is the best in the world. Rogers, despite his age, is extremely solid. After that - a mixed bag of occasional flashes of potential amidst a horrorshow of consistently poor performances.

    And our spin - Lyon, despite his recent Test, is mediocre, Agar needs work, and we don't pick O'Keefe...

  • on August 20, 2013, 0:06 GMT

    If you compare photos of Cummins to Brett Lee, you will see exactly why Pat has problems with his lower back. Cummins needs to kick his left foot straighter and get his hips through his action before his shoulders come through. The problem is obvious in the picture in the above article.

  • on August 19, 2013, 21:26 GMT

    There is surely a difference between excess physical fitness (wound up so tight that the slightest twang breaks the body in two) and bowling fitness, which was the old way bowlers like Fred Trueman used to be able to pound it out. Also -- has anyone looked at the kid's shoes? Is the footwear used these days somehow to blame (or at least a factor)?

  • Sinhaya on August 19, 2013, 15:18 GMT

    Oh this is so sad. As a Lankan, I felt so honored to take a photo with Cummins last year when he came for the T20 world cup where during the practice match in Colombo with NZ, I caught him near the boundary to take a photo which I recollect with so much of fondness. This is no doubt very demoralizing but I hope he will come out of this and become Australia's greatest bowler hopefully. I know Anderson too was injury prone at the beginning, but I fear whether Cummins is a bit too much injury prone.

  • Green_and_Gold on August 19, 2013, 15:02 GMT

    @ARJa - what has fitness got to do with Cummins breaking down??? Look at watson - he is one of the most fittest blokes in the aussie squad but he still gets injured. If anything being fit could cause some of the injury problems i.e. the stronger you are, the faster you can bowl and the more stress you put on your bones (and more stress fractures). OR the fitter you are - the more you train - the more likely to pull a muscle.

  • landl47 on August 19, 2013, 13:39 GMT

    Some people just aren't lucky enough to have bodies that hold up under extreme stress- the kind of stress that comes from bowling 90+mph. It's nobody's fault; no matter what the training regime, if your body breaks down under pressure then it's very hard to fix.

    I hope Cummins, as he gets older, is able to bowl without hurting himself. He looked a very special talent in the brief time he played at top level. However, as Richard Hadlee rightly says in his excellent article on Cricinfo, there's life after cricket to be considered. Being a the fastest bowler in the world for a few years is not worth being in a wheelchair at 40, and back problems can do that to you.

  • on August 19, 2013, 10:04 GMT

    This frquent injury lay-offs r frustrating not only 2 the players, but to the fans as well. the moment v come across an exciting pace bowler barely in their 20's. its surprising that they r off due to some niggle after playing just a fortnight of cricket. This is very absurd given the amount of support staff every inter'tional teams have at their disposal. The concerned boards should look into the root of the problem irt player's fitness, bowling action/ other reasons rather than any quick-fix solutions to such recurring niggles. The yesteryr players of the game esp bolwers also have a role 2 play.

  • hyclass on August 22, 2013, 10:55 GMT

    When Cummins was selected as a teenager, with 3 or 4 1st Class games to his credit, I opposed his selection on this basis and suggested that the likely outcome was injuries that would plague or finish his career early. He was recovering from injury after having played in the Shield Final. Far from it being no-ones' fault, I very clearly lay the blame at the feet of CA. The idea that a kid who has experienced 4 x 4 day games ever would be capable of playing multiple 5 day games is very poorly considered. 4 Day Shield is a big step up from 2 day club cricket. Test cricket requires 20% more than Shield. What needed to happen was what had most often happened in the past-that rather than choosing on a whim, age, technique or any other criterion, that players be chosen only on long term results, as was the case during Australia's great period. Then when chosen, they were to be left to play their own way and sink or swim on merit. This has not been the case for the last 5 years, thanks to CA

  • on August 21, 2013, 10:02 GMT

    All three of his season ending injuries have come after playing in South Africa (debut test, champions trophy, this australia A tour). I think the solution to his injuries is simple - Stop sending him to play in South Africa!

  • scarab666 on August 20, 2013, 7:06 GMT

    Tomas Anderson has got it right and I've been saying for a longtime now that Cummins action is poor. Either he corrects his action or retires because at the moment he is of no use to the Australian team....he breaks down too often to the pressures of International cricket. Apart from his action Cummins also has had little grade cricket experience to develop his body to the rigours of Men's cricket.....another negative to Australia's fast tracking of junior talent.

  • Liquefierrrr on August 20, 2013, 1:17 GMT

    @200ondebut - just to be clear, we are speaking of the same quicks that have achieved the following this series:

    Kept the following English batsmen quiet (Pietersen - avg. 34.50, Cook - avg. 27.25, Trott - avg. 24.25, Prior - avg. 14.33).

    And whose front-line pace bowlers have snared 54 wickets @ 27.43, compared to England's 46 @ 29.89?

    The one thing Australia, undeniably, has presently is a vast amount of high quality quick bowlers. Cummins is merely a piece within that jigsaw, a big piece, but no bigger or more promising than any of the other young fast bowling talent we have.

    Now our batting and spin bowling - THAT is something you'd be within rights to 'tease' us about. Claire, aside Amla, is the best in the world. Rogers, despite his age, is extremely solid. After that - a mixed bag of occasional flashes of potential amidst a horrorshow of consistently poor performances.

    And our spin - Lyon, despite his recent Test, is mediocre, Agar needs work, and we don't pick O'Keefe...

  • on August 20, 2013, 0:06 GMT

    If you compare photos of Cummins to Brett Lee, you will see exactly why Pat has problems with his lower back. Cummins needs to kick his left foot straighter and get his hips through his action before his shoulders come through. The problem is obvious in the picture in the above article.

  • on August 19, 2013, 21:26 GMT

    There is surely a difference between excess physical fitness (wound up so tight that the slightest twang breaks the body in two) and bowling fitness, which was the old way bowlers like Fred Trueman used to be able to pound it out. Also -- has anyone looked at the kid's shoes? Is the footwear used these days somehow to blame (or at least a factor)?

  • Sinhaya on August 19, 2013, 15:18 GMT

    Oh this is so sad. As a Lankan, I felt so honored to take a photo with Cummins last year when he came for the T20 world cup where during the practice match in Colombo with NZ, I caught him near the boundary to take a photo which I recollect with so much of fondness. This is no doubt very demoralizing but I hope he will come out of this and become Australia's greatest bowler hopefully. I know Anderson too was injury prone at the beginning, but I fear whether Cummins is a bit too much injury prone.

  • Green_and_Gold on August 19, 2013, 15:02 GMT

    @ARJa - what has fitness got to do with Cummins breaking down??? Look at watson - he is one of the most fittest blokes in the aussie squad but he still gets injured. If anything being fit could cause some of the injury problems i.e. the stronger you are, the faster you can bowl and the more stress you put on your bones (and more stress fractures). OR the fitter you are - the more you train - the more likely to pull a muscle.

  • ARJa on August 19, 2013, 14:33 GMT

    This guy is the most pathetic cricketer I have seen in recent times in terms of fitness. What's the point of been so talented if you can't stand up straight even for one season. He is a walking hospital and the amount of injuries he gets is beyond belief. If he is so ill all the time, how did he even get selected for the national team. If he is like this in early 20s, he is not last till 30 at top level. The common thing about all great pace bowlers was not lightning speed. It was fitness. Remember Walsh. He was 37 when he retired and barely missed a season due to injury. When he lost pace, he became even better with variety. Cummings is not even close to that league.

  • on August 19, 2013, 13:19 GMT

    I wish him well, he has a lot of talent.

  • mautan on August 19, 2013, 12:29 GMT

    Although fast bowling is hard on bowling, it was still the same in earlier days. And players, especially playing in county cricket or someone like Kapil Dev, were way more overworked than these kids today. The difference now is the so called 'professional training'. Too many weights, strengthening excercises, too much running out of cricket etc. These professional trainers do think that they know how to get out the best from a players body, however they should be answerable to all these injuries and surgeries as well. Cummins is turing into another NGAM! Ngam, Pattinson, Cummins, Onions, Harris, Varun Aaron, Zaheer, Hamid Hassan, Bond, Cairns..so many players that you feel were almost perpetually carring a nigle or plain injured. Especially if cricket volume has increased, the training should be reduced. Also, too much cricket is also a bit of a myth, as players are managed so much better for their workload now. Somebody should also look at the injuries before matches playing soccer!

  • Moppa on August 19, 2013, 11:51 GMT

    I am disappointed for Cummins of course, but let's put things in perspective. Dennis Lillee, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee all had serious injury layoffs early in their career - its hardly unprecedented. As for @200ondebut's comments, I seem to recall Tim Bresnan getting injured just this week. And Broad, Finn, and Tremlett all recently coming off injury breaks. Theory 1: fast bowling is hard on your body. Theory 2: all Australians are spineless losers. I know which theory I'm backing.

  • on August 19, 2013, 11:48 GMT

    I have a problem with bio-mechanics. Right from your childhood you'd have bowled with a certain action. The muscles would tend to develop in a certain way. Then comes some Dennis Lillee ( he knows more because he developed back injury..) changes his action to meet the requirements of biomechanics. Then what happens? The other muscle fibers seem to snap as they are not used to such wear and tear. This is where the SriLankans and the Pakisthan guys are good. They never tweek the action and let them be just as natural as possible. Yes, some have really good bio-mechanics naturally like Dale Steyn, Michael Holding etc. But that is out of accident. Please let people be the way they are.

  • 200ondebut on August 19, 2013, 11:35 GMT

    You do have to wonder whats going on with the aussie quicks. Now this may all be coincidental - an unfortunate series of totally unrelated events. Alternatively, it could just be that this once great sporting nation is now only capable of producing spineless losers.

    I hope he gets better soon - whilst is great to be able to tease the Aussie supporters, I would never wish any harm to a player.

  • wibblewibble on August 19, 2013, 11:21 GMT

    Cummins is 20, and has missed 3 seasons of FC cricket? I think that firmly points the finger there, he's been playing too much too young. CA are firmly to blame for chucking these young guys into international cricket before their bodies have matured. He needs to stop listening to these experts telling him how to bowl so he doesn't get injured, and find an action that is comfortable *for him*.

  • Green_and_Gold on August 19, 2013, 10:49 GMT

    @Joseph Langford - How about when there is evidence that their practices are directly related to the injuries. How are you so sure that the break downs are related to training and not some other factor? Can you tell me what happens at training, how many session the players train, what sort of recovery they get. Can you advise how our training differs to other countries (esp if they have less players breaking down). How are you so sure that its the trainers that are causing the issues. Personally - i dont know myself - but im not going to make statements saying that they destroying aus cricket. If you bowl at 80-90mph then your putting your body under pressure.

  • hunain94 on August 19, 2013, 10:47 GMT

    i think he should not be allowed to play any sort of cricket till he gets 100% fit.he needs to work on his action may be with changed action he might not get injured.

  • on August 19, 2013, 10:40 GMT

    This kid needs to get sorted out, barring injury he will be the best fast bowler in world cricket. No disrespect to Starc, pattinson, hazelwood or bird, they just don't have the se cricket brain this kid ha.

  • on August 19, 2013, 10:31 GMT

    Aussies are facing hard time

  • Showbags88 on August 19, 2013, 10:29 GMT

    Lets not forget he is 20. If he was 30 and having these problems I would be worried but he has plenty of time to work into a bowling action. Almost every bowler there has been has had injury problems as a youngster (though admittedly Cummins is a pretty bad case atm).

    We need to stop trying to get him to bowl 150 km an hour. Those sort of bowlers are not durable and will not stand up to the rigours of international cricket over the long term. Look at the likes of Lillee, Steyn, Lee etc. they were all bowlers that were tearaways as youngsters but brought their pace back a touch and gained more control and movement later in their careers.

  • jmcilhinney on August 19, 2013, 10:27 GMT

    That must be devastating news for Cummins. Given the nature of the injury and the number of times it's recurred, I have to wonder whether he will ever be able to sustain a career in FC cricket, never mind Tests. It's a great shame for Cummins and Australian cricket but durability is a prerequisite for real success at the top level.

  • on August 19, 2013, 10:21 GMT

    I hope he recovers - hes sheer class - enjoyed watching him even if he did a little too well against my team (SA) for my liking. Reminds me of Mfuneko Ngam - looked incredible on debut but had career ending injuries.

  • on August 19, 2013, 10:05 GMT

    @ Green_and_Gold ....

    Pattinson, Cummings, Bird, Johnson, Harris, Siddle, Starc .... a list of bowlers who have recently been sidelined with injury.

    I repeat ....when are the Australian Trainers going to be made accountable for destroying Australian Cricket Players??

  • 512fm on August 19, 2013, 10:03 GMT

    I'm not sure whether the fact hes young or not helps him mentally with all these injuries. I mean people already labelling him the next Tait or Bond, I will be really impressed if he does come back from this as you really have to start wondering whether he will or not.

  • LillianThomson on August 19, 2013, 9:59 GMT

    The solution is to look back at Fred Trueman and Brian Statham's durability.

    Basically, Cricket Australia should ban him from all T20 and limited overs cricket - where bowlers exert absurd pressure on their bodies in short bursts.

    Instead he should be restricted to first class cricket - and banned from the gym too - so that he grows and toughens the muscles which fast bowling requires.

    And I'm a doctor!

  • on August 19, 2013, 9:56 GMT

    Well - surprise, surprise. Junior coaches across Australia are hammered about bowling action management and limiting overs to be bowled by juniors in matches and training specifically to counter this issue. Then along come the geniuses at Cricket NSW and the NSW Sheffield Shield Captain at the time (Katich as I recall) who, in their wisdom decide that a 17 year old called Cummins needs to bowl 45 overs in a Shield Final. Result - his cricket future is sacrificed at the alter of trophy glory. People who know me will recall we predicted this disaster at that time. Well done NSW!

  • on August 19, 2013, 9:49 GMT

    calm down. he's twenty. mcgrath hadn't even made a first class debut at his age. in time he will settle like most do. bond had childhood problems,not same thing at all.

  • DylanBrah on August 19, 2013, 9:48 GMT

    He's probably gone his whole life without any injuries, and as soon as he turns pro, with all the sports scientists, physios, etc he breaks down. Coincidence?

  • on August 19, 2013, 9:25 GMT

    I am surprised how he bowled this long with such a back breaking bowling action. All the physios , doctors, coaches - please correct his bowling action. Everything else will fall in place. Take the examples of Bond, Pattinson, Tait, Ian Bishop, Flintoff to name a few. Their natural bowling actions put enormous strain on their body..Doctors can only heal it, the coaches have to advice the bowlers on these things.

  • Green_and_Gold on August 19, 2013, 9:16 GMT

    @Joseph Langford - so no acknowledgement for the Aussie trainers to get Cummins to international level but you want their heads cause the guy gets injured. These things happen - get over it.

  • nzcricket174 on August 19, 2013, 9:13 GMT

    Australia, enjoy your version of Shane Bond. We here in NZ had to put up with insane injuries numbers for ten years. At this rate, he may end up playing less than Bond did.

  • on August 19, 2013, 9:13 GMT

    Another Shaun Tait in making. Australia is providing good case studies for upcoming fast bowlers.

  • Playfair on August 19, 2013, 9:05 GMT

    First Pattinson now Cummins, a great shame and a huge double whammy for Australian cricket!! A season out of the should do them a world of good, lets hope for cricket sake they come back stronger and fitter !

  • D-Train on August 19, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    I'd almost say tell Cummins to give it a break for a year or two while only doing short amounts of bowling. Let his body develop to a point where he can handle it.

  • on August 19, 2013, 8:55 GMT

    It'll take huge huge efforts by him to become an international player again......Another TAIT...Another BOND.... Can't come back. His mind will break off for sure.

  • RAOKVINAY on August 19, 2013, 8:43 GMT

    fast bowling is tough as iron

  • on August 19, 2013, 8:33 GMT

    disappointing , he is the best fast bowling talent in the world. Sadly he is missing most of the important phase of his life. But I still think he will overcome all the problems as sachin did in his whole career and will become a legend of the game.

  • on August 19, 2013, 8:31 GMT

    When are the Australian Trainers going to be made accountable for destroying Australian Cricket Players.

  • Rashgul on August 19, 2013, 8:30 GMT

    I would be very surprised if he played for Australia again in a Test match. There is no way, on his current trend of breakdowns, of him lasting a Test match. At a time when Aussie cricket is at an all-time low, they can't even get their fast bowlers on the field. In fact, I can bet my life, Cummins will not play a full Test series in his whole life. And that is tragic to Test cricket as a whole!

  • Rashgul on August 19, 2013, 8:30 GMT

    I would be very surprised if he played for Australia again in a Test match. There is no way, on his current trend of breakdowns, of him lasting a Test match. At a time when Aussie cricket is at an all-time low, they can't even get their fast bowlers on the field. In fact, I can bet my life, Cummins will not play a full Test series in his whole life. And that is tragic to Test cricket as a whole!

  • on August 19, 2013, 8:31 GMT

    When are the Australian Trainers going to be made accountable for destroying Australian Cricket Players.

  • on August 19, 2013, 8:33 GMT

    disappointing , he is the best fast bowling talent in the world. Sadly he is missing most of the important phase of his life. But I still think he will overcome all the problems as sachin did in his whole career and will become a legend of the game.

  • RAOKVINAY on August 19, 2013, 8:43 GMT

    fast bowling is tough as iron

  • on August 19, 2013, 8:55 GMT

    It'll take huge huge efforts by him to become an international player again......Another TAIT...Another BOND.... Can't come back. His mind will break off for sure.

  • D-Train on August 19, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    I'd almost say tell Cummins to give it a break for a year or two while only doing short amounts of bowling. Let his body develop to a point where he can handle it.

  • Playfair on August 19, 2013, 9:05 GMT

    First Pattinson now Cummins, a great shame and a huge double whammy for Australian cricket!! A season out of the should do them a world of good, lets hope for cricket sake they come back stronger and fitter !

  • on August 19, 2013, 9:13 GMT

    Another Shaun Tait in making. Australia is providing good case studies for upcoming fast bowlers.

  • nzcricket174 on August 19, 2013, 9:13 GMT

    Australia, enjoy your version of Shane Bond. We here in NZ had to put up with insane injuries numbers for ten years. At this rate, he may end up playing less than Bond did.

  • Green_and_Gold on August 19, 2013, 9:16 GMT

    @Joseph Langford - so no acknowledgement for the Aussie trainers to get Cummins to international level but you want their heads cause the guy gets injured. These things happen - get over it.