India v Australia, 3rd Test, Ranchi, 3rd day March 18, 2017

Cummins has exceeded expectations - Saker

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Saker: 'It's a cut-throat series for everyone'

Pat Cummins exceeded expectations of even Australia's coaching staff by snaring three wickets on the third day in Ranchi, to add to his one from Friday. Cummins finished the day with 4 for 59 from 25 overs, bowling with pace and venom on a good batting pitch. Among his victims were Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, two key batsmen who fell cheaply.

Sending Cummins to India to replace the injured Mitchell Starc was always going to be a gamble for Australia's selectors, given his history of significant injuries. Although he was Man of the Match on his Test debut in Johannesburg as an 18-year-old in 2011, Cummins has spent such long periods in injury recovery that this Test is just his 10th first-class match.

Earlier this month, he completed his first Sheffield Shield game in nearly six years. That game was also his first first-class game of any type since mid-2015. But with the series locked at 1-1 and a historic series win in India up for grabs, Australia risked rushing Cummins in for the Ranchi Test, and his efforts on day three have given them hope.

"It's superb. I thought last night he bowled particularly well, but today he backed that up and to produce some of the balls he produced to get wickets is pretty exciting," David Saker, Australia's bowling coach, said. "Hats off to the selectors to go with him. Ball speed in India is a big thing because the wickets don't generate any pace. But he was way higher than the expectations we had."

Cummins has sent down the fewest overs of any of Australia's four frontline bowlers so far in this Test, but has looked by far the most dangerous. Saker said no restrictions had been placed on Cummins' workload in this Test, but they did not expect him to have too much to do over the next two days.

"It's a really important Test match for us," Saker said. "If he ends up bowling more overs than first expected, then so be it. It's tough cricket over here and because he's bowling so well the captain will want to keep going to him. I can't see him bowling too many overs tomorrow and maybe if we do have a bowl on the final day, I think it will be more a spinning wicket."

The return of Cummins at Test level has also coincided with a strong domestic comeback from James Pattinson, another injury-prone fast bowler who has thrived when available. Their respective returns will leave Australia's selectors salivating over the prospect of having Cummins, Pattinson, Starc and Josh Hazlewood all available at the same time.

"It will be a bit of a headache for the selectors when it does happen," Saker said. "It's really good to see. Patty [Cummins] today going really well, Josh and Mitch had a fantastic summer. Then we've got Jimmy Pattinson, the way he's come back in the last few Shield games and he's got another chance in a Shield final, so that's really good for him and good for Australian cricket.

"To be strong in world cricket and especially the Australian team you need a good crop of fast bowlers and we've got that at the moment. But we've had a lot of problems getting them on the park. There are still other back-up bowlers.

"Jackson Bird is here, he does a fantastic job when he's called upon. Peter Siddle's been outstanding for long periods of time. Chadd Sayers again, probably one of the unlucky fast bowlers in Australian cricket. We've got a good crop so that's exciting for me and the Australian cricket team."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 2vickr9898587 on March 19, 2017, 10:23 GMT

    just a good day for Pat to bag some wickets. But Umesh is the star with not so much luck as Pat

  • 2vickr9898587 on March 19, 2017, 10:04 GMT

    Can't judge by one Innings.. need to see how he manages in the long run.

  • laksvi5642713 on March 19, 2017, 4:32 GMT

    Wish oh Wish we in india could hire someone like Craig Mcd, David Saker, troy cooley, alan donald, gillespie, akram as our specialist bowling coach else umesh yadav (inspite of the improvement shown) will be the biggest waste of talent since L Siva in the 80's, appointing a specialist bowling coach will focus some of the spotlight on pace bowling, we shall start to see this as a default no brainer weapon instead of just thinking spin and being bombarded with useless spin and batting stats everytime we win in india ...look at the way cummins, starc are beign managed, am guessing our guys donot have a clue how to a) recognise pace bowling potential b) nurture it c) manage it ....to my fellow indian fans, unless our mindset changes from 'lets win in india who care overseas' get used to home victories only as we need pace to get the bulk of 20 wickets overseas, ....hoping for some changes in our psyche-our pitches to be mor epace oriented..cricinfo plz publish

  • Peter on March 19, 2017, 3:45 GMT

    Sids is probably ending his mighty stint but plenty young uns below 23 years old in the cupboard as noted in BBL and Shield. 150kph is now the required benchmark unless they have smarts and metronomic skills like Pidge and Josh. Pidge broke Pietersen's ribs with 127 kph so imagine what 150 kph will do. It's probably getting similar to DKL and Thommo when Lillee broke a batsman leg thru the padding in the 70s during the Ashes tour. The growing bodies need to be protected from bowling so fast but this would not be our way. Oz speedsters have always killed their bodies especially injuries to their spines. Otherwise no selector would notice in a land of speed. As Junior Waugh pointed out...they are fast bowlers cest la vie.

  • Thomas on March 19, 2017, 3:45 GMT

    PRASPUNTER Thank you for the correction. Appreciate

  • Peter on March 19, 2017, 2:18 GMT

    @MILEPOST As with any sports, I always find waiting until the final result much less embarrassing than making ridiculous & clueless predictions. You do recall all the 4-0 predictions prior to this series don't you? Cheers.

  • Cameron on March 18, 2017, 23:59 GMT

    There's no way England can avoid a whitewash in the Ashes. We are too good.

  • michael on March 18, 2017, 22:39 GMT

    I don' t know what young fast bowling talent is available in India but surely there is somebody better than Ishant. Umesh has had a great series with 12 wickets at 22 whereas Ishant has 2 wickets at 90. In Aust Ishant would struggle to make a Shield team. If you ever want to win a series in Aust then you MUST have decent new ball bowlers. The current India attack would get slaughtered in Aust as there would be too much work to do in the first 3 days for Umesh & he'd probably breakdown on the hard Aust wickets. Imagine Starc, Hazelwood, Cummins & Lyon/SOK with Pattinson in reserve against Umesh, Ashwin, Jadeja & Ishant on Aust wickets? No contest. We grow up against quality fast bowlers, just as Indians grow up against quality spin. India have to start unearthing young fast bowling talent & getting them experienced BEFORE they next tour Aust otherwise they won't be competitive. You need 3 good fast bowlers (with 2 top spinners maybe only 2) to win in Aust - India don't have that.

  • Tom on March 18, 2017, 22:17 GMT

    Cummins' skill set is such that he could probably cut 10-15 k from his speed and still be a test class opening bowler, not unlike Lillee when he came back after a long absence through injury. But Cummins is a genuine fast bowler -- heart , body and soul. I doubt that he has it in him to compromise

  • Jonathan on March 18, 2017, 21:35 GMT

    He has been simply brilliant, he's a far more intelligent bowler than Starc who just doesn't seem to have any natural instinct for bowling at all, he's an athlete, nothing more than that, Pat is a bowler. He is not going to be faced with a slower pitch than this and yet he has bounced out three batsmen so far and that by using his bouncer sparingly, pretty incredible stuff.

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