Australia news August 19, 2013

Another long injury lay-off for Cummins

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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

  • 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

  • dummy4fb 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...

  • dummy4fb 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.

  • dummy4fb 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.