June 27, 2012

Denying Cummins his 'Shane Warne moment'

"Pat Cummings is coming on to bowl," said the Essex ground announcer.

"Pat Cummings is coming on to bowl," said the Essex ground announcer.

And that isn't a typo by me, the added g was used for pretty much the entire match. Taking a five-for and hitting the winning runs in your first Test as a teenager should be enough for people to know your name. But Cummins is still fairly unknown to English audiences. Him, Starc and Pattinson are often grouped together as Australia's young pace bowlers.

Starc looks a nightmare to face on his day, Pattinson is a beast of a young man but it's Cummins who is the mythical cricket creature. The teenage pace sensation.

Watching him bowl in the dusk at Chelmsford was an exciting moment. His second ball ripped out Tom Westerley's stumps in a violent way. Ryan ten Doeschate seemed happier when Ravi Bopara was facing. Greg Smith played a classical forward defence to a ball that had bowled him several seconds earlier. Graham Napier didn't look keen on getting behind the line. And the tail looked properly afraid.

It was what a fast-bowling teen sensation should do, smash wickets, rush batsmen and scare tail-enders. And if later this week was the first Test, Cummins could have his magical moment where he gets to bowl his first international ball on English soil, and give himself his "Shane Warne" moment.

The ball of the century was an amazing delivery, but had it been the first ball Warne had bowled in New Zealand or Sri Lanka, it wouldn't have had the same effect. By the time Warne was playing in an Ashes Test, he'd help win a Test in Sri Lanka, taken a seven-wicket haul against West Indies and demolished New Zealand. But in the UK, that meant little and his career started by bamboozling Gatting.

Imagine what it would be like if a teenage fast bowler was playing in the Ashes next week. Steaming in from the nursery end bowling his first ball in Ashes cricket. Even if he failed, it would be an amazing story.

Instead we have an ODI series that's being played for financial and World Cup 2015 planning reasons. A series that at best will be forgotten by the time the World Cup is actually played. Perhaps we get lucky, and in one of the ODIs Cummins takes a bag of wickets. Although most ODI hauls are assisted by slogs and powerplay foolishness anyway, so it's less likely to make any real impact.

By the time Cummins does play a Test in the UK, people will remember him as the young guy who played in a few ODIs the summer before. It won't have the magic of someone arriving from nowhere. You'd assume that by the time of the first Ashes Test, most ground announcers will know Cummins doesn't have a g in it.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com