Cape Cobras v New South Wales, CLT20, Chennai September 24, 2011

Cummins should work on his variety - Gibbs


Herschelle Gibbs looked spent but pleased with his work as he strode into the post match press conference, and then he stumbled. His smiling visage broke into a wince as cramps gave him a mini-Rafael Nadal moment even before he reached his seat. His captain Justin Kemp saw the funny side of things. "Signs of ageing," he quipped. Gibbs' response was spontaneous: "You'll get there one day."

One of the undeniable joys of franchise-based Twenty20 is that it renders age a tad irrelevant. Retired freelancers like Matthew Hayden have a splash, as do youngsters who are yet to cut their teeth in the longer formats. At 37, Gibbs is one of the older players in this tournament. Patrick Cummins, the one New South Wales player to make an impression in their defeat, is less than half his age.

Cummins was one of the architects of New South Wales' Big Bash win. Coming in to fill the void left by Brett Lee's absence, Cummins ended up as the highest wicket-taker in the tournament, picking up 11 sticks in six games. Armed with a young constitution and the limitless ambition to bowl "as fast as I can", the 18-year-old Cummins screams in and lets the white ball go whang.

There was no let-up in that pace and bounce on his Champions League debut. The Chepauk track is slow at the best of times, but today it was at its somnolent best. That didn't deter Cummins from charging in with his free-spirited action and getting a bouncer to take off past Gibbs, and almost over the wicket-keeper's head. That didn't stop him from hustling Gibbs with another bouncer that had enough wings to fly over fine-leg for six off a top edge. Chennai has not seen pace of this kind in a long while. Ah, the joys of youth!

But youth is a double-edged sword for a fast bowler. At 18, Cummins is yet to develop the musculature that can sustain a bowler of his ambition. It is a point Greg Chappell made recently when he said Cummins was still "two or three" years away from maturity as a bowler.

New South Wales were too generous at the other end for Cummins' inspired burst to turn the game, and Gibbs easily took control of the chase. Gibbs liked what he saw of the fast bowler, but believed he was too one-dimensional. "I think you feel that he's got enough pace," Gibbs said. "But in Twenty20 cricket especially, it is not always about pace. You have got to be able to play wisely and use your change-ups."

"I think that he used the same theory ball after ball and didn't vary it enough, which takes his effectiveness away. In saying that, he's still got enough wheels, he's young, he's strong and he hits the deck quite hard. But this is not Australia, where you can actually bang it in. It's not actually going to get through. You have got to keep being clever and trying to be better than the batter, rather than trying to bang it in ball after ball."

Cummins is not bothering about variations just yet. He is not too concerned about over-reaching and breaking down either, but is prepared to do the hard yards off the field. "I want to bowl as fast as I can, and leave the strength training for the gym," he said ahead of the game. "I have had a very good pre-season where I did a lot of weight training and am getting stronger. If you try to fiddle around too much with the pace, you might end up with a completely different action."

Cummins' biggest lesson came earlier in the day, when his batting mates were meandering aimlessly through the latter stages of the innings. The Cobras had sussed out the pitch after conceding New South Wales a quick start, and their seamers chose to take the pace off completely in the end overs. That included a two-over spell that featured nine slower balls, from the best fast bowler currently in the game, Dale Steyn. It is too early to predict whether Cummins might get there one day, but he stands a chance only if he can make variety the spice of his life.

Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Christopher on September 27, 2011, 1:23 GMT

    From that which Ive seen of Cummins@Meety,he looks to have a mixed action.I applaud his ethic and adherence to principles of simplicty over the morass of theories that have dominated Australian cricket,but mixed actions are the bane of fast bowlers,prone to causing injury.Id like to see McDermott work with him.This is one area that he has real expertise in.My interest in Coulter Nile is that he is also express,listed on Cricinfo as,'fast',not injured and has stunning results.I concede,he has played a number of games at WACA,with the advantage of bounce and the Fremantle Doctor,but his height(1.90) and pace have results elsewhere.If i were to choose a tour development quick,it would be him 1st.I agree with your summation of the fast bowling in Australia and lack of effectiveness last Ashes,despite their pace.I thought the bowling overall,was far better than it was given credit for.The Englishman were superbly prepared,bourne out against India and SL as well & deserve full recognition.

  • Andrew on September 26, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    @hyclass - I don't think anyone on this thread is saying he, (Cummins) is a genius, just that he has a talent that not many bowlers have ever possessed. As could be seen with Brett Lee in Tests, he was not as much of a threat as McGrath yet was on average 15kph faster. Most of the comments are in response to a dopey comment about Cummins being the same speed as Finn. The fact is pretty much all of the Ozzy pace bowlers, (barring Watto), were faster than the Poms in the last Ashes, & that obviously did not translate to wickets. IMO - Cummins is a fantastic work in progress, I am concerned he had an injury scare already, he was proactively rested before the injury occurred (why he missed the Zim A tour). I agree that there are plenty of others to choose from before him. I like the look of Richardson, but I wouldn't have him in a Test team until the 2012/13 summer if form warrants, same goes with Cummins. Pattinson, Coulter-Niles, Butterworth, Faulkner, McKay & George are ahead IMO.

  • Christopher on September 26, 2011, 0:56 GMT

    I fail to understand promoting an already,previously injured teenager,so far in advance of any evidence that he has anything more than an ability to bowl fast at a young age.He has just 9 wickets in 3-1st class games,at 46, S/R 90. In his 2 List A games,he has no wickets.Even the currently,statistically modest Starc,has at least 30 wickets in 12 games at 33.5, S/R 60. Hazelwood has 17 wickets in 6 games at 26, S/R 49. Richardson of Sth Australia has 8 wickets from 2 games at 25.8, S/R 44. Pattinson has 19 wickets in 6 games at 29, S/R 60. WA has two of the more promising quicks,in Duffield,with 34 wickets from 8 games at 25, S/R 45 and Coulter-Nile, right arm fast, with 32 wickets from 7 games at 23, S/R 44. Tasmania has a surfiet of quality bowlers in Maher, 49 wickets from 13 games at 22, S/R 47,Faulkner, 47 wickets from 14 games at 21, S/R 43 and Butterworth with 129 wickets from 41 games at 24, S/R 50.Bollinger should be next cab off the rank,with guys like Mckay,still in the mix.

  • Andrew on September 25, 2011, 23:03 GMT

    Its funny that we are commenting on an 18yo "one-dimensional bowler" when the wicket he took was from a slower ball!!!! LOL!

  • Andrew on September 25, 2011, 23:01 GMT

    Correction to my earlier post, I meant 138kph = 86mph. Well below @Mattys magical 95mph!

  • Dummy4 on September 25, 2011, 14:37 GMT

    Steven Finn bowls 95 mph? Then Bumble's backside must be a flippin' fire engine!

  • Mariam on September 25, 2011, 14:06 GMT

    Time to drop Cummins, and get Stuart Clark in

  • Michael on September 25, 2011, 8:31 GMT

    Lol Matty you surely have no idea.On a slow Chennai wicket like the one Cummins bowled on,Finn would be lucky to hit 80mph.Its early days but he's another good young fast bowling prospect that Australia have abundance in at the moment.And yes he did break the 150km barrier as a 17 yo

  • gordo on September 25, 2011, 7:51 GMT

    @HatsforBats cummins broke the 150kph barrier against the red backs in the semi's i think

  • Lou on September 25, 2011, 7:45 GMT

    Cummins can bowl a beautiful yorker, I thought his bowling last night was pretty ordinary. He probably got carried away like a lot of youngsters and wanted to bounce out all the batsman. He'll get better. He sounds quite with it for such a young kid. Steven Finn is a very talented bowler and has obvously bowled 95mph in OhhhMattyMatty's dreams and he's confused that with reality. Of course the big question is... can Gibbs keep this form up till the summer? I'll be hacked off if he turns back into the purveyor of nothing when he plays for the Scorchers.

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