Australia in South Africa 2011-12 October 18, 2011

Cummins will have mixed emotions - McDermott


Craig McDermott, Australia's bowling coach, will hark back to his teenage tearaway past to guide Pat Cummins as he presses for a place in the Test team on the tour of South Africa. McDermott made his debut for Australia in the 1984 Boxing Day Test against the West Indies at the age of 19, entering the team at a time when confidence was low and results poor. He made a strong start against Clive Lloyd's tourists and followed it up on the 1985 Ashes tour, before enduring a few spells out of the team. Those good and bad days are now McDermott's resource as he helps Cummins and the rest of the Australian attack plan for the three ODIs and two Tests in South Africa.

"It'll be interesting to see how he [Cummins] develops in the one-day series in South Africa after bowling well in the T20s," McDermott told ESPNcricinfo. "It'll be up to the selectors who they pick for our Test attack, but when we've got three or four blokes who can now bowl 140kph plus, it's a big plus for us, and we've still got James Pattinson sitting at home in Australia who has bowled well as well."

McDermott said the empathy he felt for young fast bowlers had been useful, and noted the example of the work he had done with Pattinson as well as Cummins. In Sri Lanka, Pattinson spent a great deal of time honing his skills despite never being quite close enough to selection in the Test XI.

"I think it's been very helpful, particularly with young guys like James Pattinson," McDermott said. "Throughout the Sri Lanka tour he trained his backside off day in, day out and didn't really play much cricket. He's come to South Africa and bowled very well in the T20s and is unlucky to not stay on for the Tests.

"Pat Cummins has come in as an 18-year-old, so there are a lot of emotions he's going through. He's had some good experiences through the Champions League T20, and now we've just got to make sure that we bring these guys through and nurture them while getting them hard for Test and one-day cricket."

Simon Katich was the first captain to enjoy having Cummins at his disposal in first-class cricket, in three Sheffield Shield matches at the end of last summer. Katich described Cummins as "an absolute dream" for any captain, as a young bowler with rich gifts and a level head to know how to use them.

"For a kid who is only 18 years of age, he has an amazing brain on him already," Katich said. "Control-wise he knows what he's trying to do, so from a captaincy point of view it wasn't hard to captain him.

"He can bowl good pace, he can swing it both ways, and he's just a good young kid, so he's got a lot going for him. We are going to miss having him around, but we knew that once he hit his straps and got opportunities we probably weren't going to see him too much."

Cummins is blessed with the ideal, wiry physique for bowling at high speed, and Katich felt he did not need to put on much more size at all in order to be fully developed.

"I don't think he has to get much bigger. You only need to look at someone like Brett Lee; he was never huge over his career, he was strong but he didn't have to get that bulky," Katich said. "Pat's the same, he's quite lean and wiry but he's still able to bowl at 150kph. He's obviously got a young body but he's done a reasonable pre-season with us, so hopefully that'll hold him in good stead.

"He's still got a long way to go and no doubt he will admit that, but he's a quick learner, he's got a lot of natural skill, and he's got a good head on his shoulders. He's very mature for his age and he's a smart lad, so I think he'll be more than capable when he gets his opportunity, if he keeps learning the way he has."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • M on October 20, 2011, 4:41 GMT

    All those Usi supporters would be further disgruntled to hear he has made a fighting century today in the Shield match... at least he is getting some long form cricket under his belt...

  • Andrew on October 19, 2011, 23:31 GMT

    @Biggus/Matt re: North - sorry I can't say the same about him. He had played a lot of cricket by the time he got selected for Oz, & was very average in FC cricket, not a shade on D Hussey. I would actually consider him more as an ODI batting allrounder - sort of like what Smith is NOT doing now!

  • Dummy4 on October 19, 2011, 15:09 GMT

    I feel bad for Usman Khawaja.. He replaced Ponting and batted at number 6 and Shaun Marsh played at number 3. Usie dint get enough opportunities and when Punter was back in the team at number 3, Usie was out and Marshy retained his place in the team!! :(

  • Matt on October 19, 2011, 13:35 GMT

    Indeed @Biggus it is disappointing. I don't dislike any of these players I like to have a moan about, I do wish they would perform. But when they don't perform and there is other talent standing in line...move aside

  • M on October 19, 2011, 11:07 GMT

    I know that I am a large fan of MJ and can be a bit biased but people hound him about his lack of consistency but bowling is very much a partnership thing... I think MJ has felt huge pressure to carry the attack and has lacked the backup in the past to remove that feeling. With Harris and Pattinson and to a lesser extent Watson, some of that is changing and I think we might see more of the 'free-er' Johnson in the upcoming series... But bear in mind, Johnson came onto the scene young and with a lot of expectations... Do we want to repeat the same mistakes blooding this young guy too early?

  • Richard on October 19, 2011, 10:13 GMT

    @Matt-I was really disappointed that Marcus North didn't make the grade consistently at the top level. I felt that he had so much to offer, but them's the breaks.

  • Matt on October 19, 2011, 9:13 GMT

    Amen @Biggus, I endured the same thing with Marcus North. Every time the axe was raised he scored a century, then all was forgiven for another 6 months. Frustrating as hell. I'm sure Mitch's time will come, it's just that we don't have time to waste. After Mitch I'm gunning for Haddin

  • Jaqen_Hghar on October 19, 2011, 5:08 GMT

    Cummins looks like a great prospect and I hope he has a long and successful career. I just wonder whether he wouldn't be better off coming home and playing 4-day cricket. Right now Cummins is missing bowling 40+ overs in a tough Sheffield Shield game so he can can bowl 8 overs in 2 games of hit & giggle. Surely bowling in match conditions serves these young guys better than bowling in the nets. This of course would be a moot point if they actually select him to play in the tests.

  • Dummy4 on October 18, 2011, 23:59 GMT

    If he bowls well he might be able to replace Johnson as attack leader forcing Johnson back into shield cricket to find some consistency. Harris, Siddle and Copeland make a great support cast but there still is no consistent bowling spearhead!

  • Richard on October 18, 2011, 23:38 GMT

    @Meety@Matt-I reckon you're both right, I don't think the selectors will drop MJ since he had such a good run against the Saffers last time. I'm rather concerned that he'll have a good test and we'll be stuck with his erratic bowling for another year, and I'm losing enough of my hair already without pulling out more in frustration.

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