Australia in South Africa 2011-12 October 17, 2011

Cummins into Test squad


Australia is not gambling with the future of the young New South Wales fast bowler Pat Cummins by rushing him into the Australia Test squad for the tour of South Africa, the outgoing chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch has said.

Still only 18, Cummins has enjoyed a meteoric rise, and will now stay on in South Africa for the whole tour after impressing all who have viewed him in the two Twenty20 matches between the visitors and South Africa. He has played only three first-class matches, the last of which was the Sheffield Shield final between NSW and Tasmania.

Cummins' 48 overs to return 3 for 118 in the first innings of the final was the probable source of a back complaint that kept him out of two winter tours - Hilditch revealed Cummins would have been a likely visitor to Sri Lanka if he had been fit. But it also demonstrated his ability to sustain his pace and discipline over long periods.

There has been something of a debate between NSW Cricket and Cricket Australia over the best way to handle Cummins' development, but Hilditch said there was not a trace of doubt among the selectors about his readiness for Test match duty.

"I don't think it's a gamble, we think he is going to be real good and it's definitely in our view the right time to bring him into the squad," Hilditch said in Adelaide. "We have got to be careful, we are building it up in the sense that he's 18 and he's in the Test squad for Australia so it's a massive thing, but we don't want to put too high expectations on him.

"He's certainly in our view one of the most exciting prospects that have come along for some time, certainly if we're going to get back to the top of Test cricket I would imagine he's going to play a big role."

The two T20 matches in South Africa provided confirmation of what the selectors had felt when they made Cummins the youngest-ever holder of a Cricket Australia contract. In those games, Cummins returned figures of 3 for 25 and 2 for 26, encouraging the call to keep him on tour and put him in line to be Australia's youngest Test debutant since Ian Craig was chosen as a 17-year-old in 1953.

"We thought in the Shield final he showed that he can produce in the longer form of the game, so it's a combination of things," Hilditch said. "He has obviously got explosive speed for a young man, I would expect he'd get bigger, stronger and quicker, but also execution under pressure has been exceptional in Twenty20 cricket and hopefully that is going to convert to Test cricket."

In South Africa, Cummins has made quite an impression on the Australian squad, earning high praise from Cameron White and Shane Watson after his T20 debut. Watson said Cummins' level head had been noticeable.

"There's no way he will let it get to his head," Watson said. "Deep down he knows that it's a really special gift that he's got, to bowl that fast at such a young age."

White said Cummins had bowled "like a seasoned pro" and was the difference between victory and defeat in Australia's first match of the tour.

There was a strong possibility that Cummins and Pattinson would be considered for the first home Tests of the summer against New Zealand, but Cummins' rapid progress has outstripped that scenario.

Cummins' selection in place of the young Victorian quick James Pattinson is the only change to the squad that enjoyed a 1-0 series success in Sri Lanka.

"James is very unlucky to miss selection," Hilditch said. "He is a very good young fast bowler who has done well in his limited opportunities at international level to date.

"We're sure he'll return to the Sheffield Shield and place plenty of pressure on those in the Test squad ahead of what is a very demanding domestic summer of Test cricket."

Squad: Michael Clarke (c), Shane Watson (vc), Michael Beer, Trent Copeland, Patrick Cummins, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Phil Hughes, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Ricky Ponting, Peter Siddle.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Roo on October 19, 2011, 5:36 GMT

    Oz pace bowling has been 3rd class since 2007... neither Johnson (30.43) or Siddle (31.62) are strike bowlers; leak runs too easily; fail to build pressure... Harris (20.90) is a class bowler... Bollinger (25.92) seems unlucky... Copeland (37.83) yet to prove anything tho good on Oz decks so should improve in SA... Hastings (FC 24.95) will come back & should be above Jonno & Sids; both Butterworth (FC 24.50) & George (FC 28.76) unlucky... would prefer Harris, Copeland & Butterworth with Bollinger & George as first replacements... Butterworth is also a handy bat so could fill in as allrounder in ODI's...

  • Tim on October 18, 2011, 23:50 GMT

    I'm sorry but that was pretty funny. I agree with Hyclass, what's wrong with proven performers in domestic first class cricket? I don't understand the logic of taking someone who hasn't done anything at all. I totally disagree with people saying he is ready. He's not. He has already had a back strain (that's a bad sign) and has 9 wickets in FC at an average of almost 50. He didn't deserve to be picked IMHO. I don't care if you bowl fast. Bowling fast is not the only criteria to being successful, everyone needs to start getting that into their heads. It's why Australia lost the ashes. We bowled FILTH, but hey we were pretty quick. You also need to get wickets and know your skills. I mean what happens if Harris needs more sticky tape in SA? That is not unlikely. Then he plays. Hey he might do well, but more than likely based of what he has done already he won't. So many deserving Bowlers around Australia I would have taken instead.

  • Andrew on October 18, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    @ hyclass - where do you get the domestic FC stats from? Its got me buggered, I've been wanting to look things up but have had to either rely on memory (not a good practise), or be vague!

  • Christopher on October 18, 2011, 5:57 GMT

    @James Wheeler.If you had reserached Butterworth & Faulkner,I you would not have made those comments.In the 2010/11 season,Butterworth took 45 Shield wickets from 9 games at 17.53. He played 6 games at Bellerive,including the final,for 25 wickets.The first game of the season at the Gabba was washed out without Tasmania bowling a ball.At the MCG, Butterworth took 4/36 & 5/41.At the SCG,he took 4/26 and 1/43.At the WACA,he took 6/51 & bowled only 6 overs in the 2nd innings, 0/5. His tally away from Bellerive was,20 wickets from 3 innings & 6 overs at an average of 10.10,FAR BETTER than his record at Bellerive.On a flat wicket in Zimbabwe,he took 2/43 & in the 2011/12 opener in Perth,took 4/34 & 0/55 from 28 overs.His average at venues around Australia is as follows: Bellerive-26.32, WACA-20.29, SCG-27.54, Adelaide-19.62, Gabba-51, MCG-12.76. In his 2 away games,2010/11 season,Faulkner took 10 wickets at 10.70.He didnt play at the MCG.I hope this encourages you to research your opinions.

  • Roo on October 18, 2011, 5:34 GMT

    @James Wheeler... silly logic... one of the best swing bowlers to suit Eng Vic Tas NSW Qld conditions came from WA - terry alderman... Melb, Syd, Bris is wetter than Hobart... your point?... SS Tas v WA at WACA... Hogan 46.4 / 140 for 7; Johnson 42.4 / 132 for 6; Butterworth 42.0 / 89 for 4... Johnson made the news, Hogan best bowler wasn't mentioned... yet Butterworth best bowler last summer and continuing good form is sidelinded... jonno must be Hildich love child... only explanation...

  • Andrew on October 18, 2011, 4:57 GMT

    @James Wheeler re: Belreive, the pitch did do a fair bit last year, but for most of its FC use, Belreive has been a batsmens pitch. Tassie use to play for first innings points up until recently, Butterworths figures stack up over his career, you may or may not be right about Faulkner & Maher as their careers are shorter, but they did well in Perth! I would say Butterworth would be VERY good in England. @Timothy Cain - pretty poor comment. The only state (IMO - analysing the last 51 Test debutants), that has a better success rate than NSW for debutants is QLD. Dale & Muller were the worst players they have produced & their short careers were respectable. The worst NSW have put forward are Smith, Khawaja & Casson. At the time of Smith's selection he had a FC average almost 60 with the BAT, & was performing better than Hauritz (& O'Keefe a NSW player who really has got the raw prawn),with the ball. Khawaja has a 50+ FC average, with Casson (a former WA player), the only dubious record.

  • Avais on October 18, 2011, 3:25 GMT

    Thats a Pakistani style of the recent past. Through the fast bowling talent in the deep when they are hot. Wasim Akram and Waqar Yunis were treated the same way and rest is history. Cummins is a great talent and is ready for the big league. I have already nominated him for the ICC emerging player of the year for 2012.

  • Dummy4 on October 18, 2011, 3:16 GMT

    I'm sick of Luke Butterworth and James Faulker being thrown around, they bowl in Tasmania where the ball shapes square off the seam and the overcast weather is constant. If you sent them overseas they wouldn't know how to break a partnership and I seriously doubt the easy bowling conditions down in Tassie has given them a sort of mental toughness. There is no problem with this, if someone gets injured Siddle will play. If another gets injured, someone will get flown to South Africa. Patrick Cummins won't play a test. This is about nurturing our young talent, something Australian cricket hyas been poor at for quite some time.

  • Alex on October 18, 2011, 3:08 GMT

    This decision just seems absurd to me, surely more can be achieved by allowing Cummins some match experience in the shield than sitting on a bench in SA. More to the point the test team should be picked on solid performance, not potential. Watching the T20's it's obvious that Cummins will gain a Test cap down the road there is no need to force the issue early. Final point - I know I'm biased as a VIC but what what more does Pattinson need to do? He's bided his time on the bench, has taken the opportunity when presented by taking wickets and has been consistent in doing so. Why drop him now?

  • Dummy4 on October 18, 2011, 3:01 GMT

    Why are there no comments of outrage at the shameful selections of unproven New South Welshman while battle hardened champions from every other state remain neglected? Is there even any NSW players left to play for NSW? or are they all on test duties?

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