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October 18, 2011
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 ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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