South Africa v Australia, 1st Test, Cape Town November 8, 2011

Cummins could debut - Clarke

34

Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, has not ruled out a debut for teenage fast bowler Pat Cummins in Wednesday's first Test in Cape Town. However, Peter Siddle looms as the likely candidate to work with Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris in a three-man pace attack, with Trent Copeland the other contender.

Australia were waiting until after training on Tuesday to make their decision, but they were hampered by the weather, with the Newlands pitch covered amid heavy afternoon rain and strong wind. The famous tablecloth of white cloud spilled well down Table Mountain's slopes until the mountain was invisible, and similar conditions are expected for the first day of the game.

That could bring swing into play, and Clarke has been impressed by the shape away that Cummins has been finding in the nets and during the limited-overs portion of the trip. If he debuts, Cummins would be Australia's second-youngest Test player of all time. While he didn't take part in the tour match in Potchefstroom, that would not rule him out of contention, Clarke said.

"After he played two Twenty20s and three one-dayers, I don't think he could play [in the warm-up game] to be honest," Clarke said. "I think it was smart, let's call it workload management. I have seen him bowl enough overs to know he can bowl three or four spells in a day and bowl consistently at 145-150kph so I am not bothered about that at all.

"He's certainly in consideration. He has bowled as well as he possibly can in the nets. He's bowling good pace, swinging the ball away. He's learning every day because he is still a young kid but he's got the talent. People ask if he is ready. In my opinion you don't know if anybody is ready until you give them a crack. I think he's one of those kids who has got the natural talent, he now just needs an opportunity. But is he in our best XI for these conditions? That is what the selectors need to discuss."

Under Australia's new system, Clarke is officially one of those selectors, and he picked the medium-pacer Copeland for all three Tests on the recent tour of Sri Lanka. Copeland did not take a wicket in Potchefstroom last week and rarely looked threatening; a man who hovers around the 125kph mark is a friendlier option than the faster bowlers.

Siddle was quick and aggressive in the tour game, in which he collected five wickets for the match, and he picked up 4 for 91 in Australia's last Test, in Colombo. But last time Australia visited South Africa, Andrew McDonald played a valuable containing role with his tight lines and Clarke said that brought Copeland into the mix for this week's game.

"One of our greatest strengths in Sri Lanka was having Copes who could contain runs, and bowl tight, in good areas," he said. "The quicks know their role is not just running in and trying to take a wicket every time you bowl. Sometimes on good batting wickets you need to bowl in disciplined areas and build pressure, especially against good teams and South Africa have a good batting line-up.

"Copes did it really well in Sri Lanka but Ryan Harris did it too. Mitch bowled beautifully in the practice game, had the ball swinging back and bowled quite tight; they didn't score many runs off him. And Patty Cummins, anyone that bowls 150kph and swings the ball away from the right-hander or into a leftie, you will find it hard to get away as well."

What is not in doubt is the structure of Australia's attack, with three fast men to accompany the offspinner Nathan Lyon. The batting order picks itself, with Usman Khawaja the man to miss out.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Meety on November 10, 2011, 5:05 GMT

    @David Ly - I think McDermott would benefit from some short form exposure Internationally rather than Tests. He really has only just got a spot in the Shield side, whereas it is his 2nd year in List As. @RandyOZ - I think he'll do OK as long as he has got the habit of straying onto leg stump out of the system. If so, I think he can build pressure quite well. I hope he has full speed - he'll need it! Also, you forgot to mention Cutting in your list of up & coming pacers!!!!!!!!

  • on November 9, 2011, 10:32 GMT

    @Meety, lol, yea I've forgot about Cutting, based on his SS form he should certainly be in contention with a baggy green along with possibly McDermott whose been impressive recently but probably a long way away from presenting Australia, but still the point is ..Australia have some great talent going around with potential to break through this aging side with the likes of Ponting, Hussey, Haddin still in the side. I mean it shouldn't based on their age, but just as long as they perform, it should be okay. But still, bring in some fresh faces (Marsh, Copeland(to an extent) and Lyon can justify this)

  • Gordo85 on November 9, 2011, 10:15 GMT

    He needs to prove himself to more than just his captain what about the four other selectors?

  • RandyOZ on November 9, 2011, 10:01 GMT

    @Meety, Sids just got picked. I hope you are right but I think he could get carted around here...

  • SLrajitha on November 9, 2011, 8:12 GMT

    I recived Bellow mail from ESPN, Can you kindly tell me what is this

    ESPN STAR CRICKET COMPANY ENGLAND. No-7-Dock Way Sefiton Business Park, 20T40 4RT, England, United Kingdom.

    You have just been awarded the sum of £750,000.00GBP Only which was won by your E-MAIL Address in our 2011 Espn Star Cricket Award Lottery Company held in London. Do get back to this office with your requirement via

    Dr.Smith Agency S.L Contact Officer: Dr. John Bosco Email:espnawards2011@gmail.com OFFICE TEL NO: +1516- 499 -6762 Names :............ Address :................ Country :............... Phone No :.............. Occupation :.............. Age :................ Sex :.................

    Dr. John Bosco Williams, Officer In-charge of Claims Public Welfare Department, Espn Star Cricket Award Company London, United Kingdom

  • Meety on November 9, 2011, 7:19 GMT

    IMO - there is something about Siddle that has improved since the Ashes. I'd like to see his pace consistantly over the 145kph mark, but I think Craig Mac is having a big (& good), influence on him. I think Siddle should NEVER be selected for our ODI side EVER, but I think he is worth a look in Tests as he does have heart & can trouble batsmen with speed, IF Craig Mac has added swing & better control to his resume, he is a test bowler thru & thru. @David Ly - yep, pretty good comments. Although as what happens with most non-QLDers (asumption), you forgot Cutting! He is ripping it up this season & he should be the next untried bowler brought into the test team. It is such a shame he was injured last year. @zenboomerang - same as with the comment above - no Cutting???

  • Okakaboka on November 9, 2011, 5:14 GMT

    Okay anti Siddle fans....fair enough...but if you drop Siddle then JOHNSTON must be dropped as well. Siddle has had a better bowling average than Johnston over the last 2-3 years. Copeland can only tie up an end on these tracks.....and as someone pointed out....McDonald did a brilliant job on the last tour. He is just as capable with the ball and he can bat...so where is he??? Pity our idiot selectors left our second best bowler (Pattinson) back in Australia.

  • on November 9, 2011, 5:01 GMT

    I've never really been a fan of Siddle... I mean he was probably the best bowler for Australia during the Ashes (with the exception of Harris who got injured) but that doesn't necessarily mean he should be in the test side. He just got lucky that there was a host of injuries that didn't lead to him being dropped. There are other bowlers in my opinion that should be in the side or at least in the squad. (Butterworth, Faulkner, Pattinson, George). If they are willing to risk Cummins, why not? I feel for the kid..having all this publicity and expectations on him to deliver. Go with the logical option, selectors.. but wait..I don't think that's possible (no offence with the new chairmen of selectors)...

  • zenboomerang on November 9, 2011, 4:33 GMT

    @straight_drive4...@RandyOZ... Agree with all your picks... Though George can be inconsistent... Butterworth best bowler last season... Coulter-Nile seems in vg form at present... Lots of good choices in SS at present... Problem is we don't see the Test players play SS so no direct comparisons can be made... Think Argus wants more SS played by all players so true form can be compared...

  • longrun on November 9, 2011, 4:07 GMT

    siddle has had his chance and delivered little. give someone else a go. glad to hear people mentioning peter george - must have scratched hilditches car cas i can't work out what he's done wrong to fall off the radar. Anyway - throw cummins in at the deep end and see how he goes, why wait for the stars to align if he's bowling well now

  • Meety on November 10, 2011, 5:05 GMT

    @David Ly - I think McDermott would benefit from some short form exposure Internationally rather than Tests. He really has only just got a spot in the Shield side, whereas it is his 2nd year in List As. @RandyOZ - I think he'll do OK as long as he has got the habit of straying onto leg stump out of the system. If so, I think he can build pressure quite well. I hope he has full speed - he'll need it! Also, you forgot to mention Cutting in your list of up & coming pacers!!!!!!!!

  • on November 9, 2011, 10:32 GMT

    @Meety, lol, yea I've forgot about Cutting, based on his SS form he should certainly be in contention with a baggy green along with possibly McDermott whose been impressive recently but probably a long way away from presenting Australia, but still the point is ..Australia have some great talent going around with potential to break through this aging side with the likes of Ponting, Hussey, Haddin still in the side. I mean it shouldn't based on their age, but just as long as they perform, it should be okay. But still, bring in some fresh faces (Marsh, Copeland(to an extent) and Lyon can justify this)

  • Gordo85 on November 9, 2011, 10:15 GMT

    He needs to prove himself to more than just his captain what about the four other selectors?

  • RandyOZ on November 9, 2011, 10:01 GMT

    @Meety, Sids just got picked. I hope you are right but I think he could get carted around here...

  • SLrajitha on November 9, 2011, 8:12 GMT

    I recived Bellow mail from ESPN, Can you kindly tell me what is this

    ESPN STAR CRICKET COMPANY ENGLAND. No-7-Dock Way Sefiton Business Park, 20T40 4RT, England, United Kingdom.

    You have just been awarded the sum of £750,000.00GBP Only which was won by your E-MAIL Address in our 2011 Espn Star Cricket Award Lottery Company held in London. Do get back to this office with your requirement via

    Dr.Smith Agency S.L Contact Officer: Dr. John Bosco Email:espnawards2011@gmail.com OFFICE TEL NO: +1516- 499 -6762 Names :............ Address :................ Country :............... Phone No :.............. Occupation :.............. Age :................ Sex :.................

    Dr. John Bosco Williams, Officer In-charge of Claims Public Welfare Department, Espn Star Cricket Award Company London, United Kingdom

  • Meety on November 9, 2011, 7:19 GMT

    IMO - there is something about Siddle that has improved since the Ashes. I'd like to see his pace consistantly over the 145kph mark, but I think Craig Mac is having a big (& good), influence on him. I think Siddle should NEVER be selected for our ODI side EVER, but I think he is worth a look in Tests as he does have heart & can trouble batsmen with speed, IF Craig Mac has added swing & better control to his resume, he is a test bowler thru & thru. @David Ly - yep, pretty good comments. Although as what happens with most non-QLDers (asumption), you forgot Cutting! He is ripping it up this season & he should be the next untried bowler brought into the test team. It is such a shame he was injured last year. @zenboomerang - same as with the comment above - no Cutting???

  • Okakaboka on November 9, 2011, 5:14 GMT

    Okay anti Siddle fans....fair enough...but if you drop Siddle then JOHNSTON must be dropped as well. Siddle has had a better bowling average than Johnston over the last 2-3 years. Copeland can only tie up an end on these tracks.....and as someone pointed out....McDonald did a brilliant job on the last tour. He is just as capable with the ball and he can bat...so where is he??? Pity our idiot selectors left our second best bowler (Pattinson) back in Australia.

  • on November 9, 2011, 5:01 GMT

    I've never really been a fan of Siddle... I mean he was probably the best bowler for Australia during the Ashes (with the exception of Harris who got injured) but that doesn't necessarily mean he should be in the test side. He just got lucky that there was a host of injuries that didn't lead to him being dropped. There are other bowlers in my opinion that should be in the side or at least in the squad. (Butterworth, Faulkner, Pattinson, George). If they are willing to risk Cummins, why not? I feel for the kid..having all this publicity and expectations on him to deliver. Go with the logical option, selectors.. but wait..I don't think that's possible (no offence with the new chairmen of selectors)...

  • zenboomerang on November 9, 2011, 4:33 GMT

    @straight_drive4...@RandyOZ... Agree with all your picks... Though George can be inconsistent... Butterworth best bowler last season... Coulter-Nile seems in vg form at present... Lots of good choices in SS at present... Problem is we don't see the Test players play SS so no direct comparisons can be made... Think Argus wants more SS played by all players so true form can be compared...

  • longrun on November 9, 2011, 4:07 GMT

    siddle has had his chance and delivered little. give someone else a go. glad to hear people mentioning peter george - must have scratched hilditches car cas i can't work out what he's done wrong to fall off the radar. Anyway - throw cummins in at the deep end and see how he goes, why wait for the stars to align if he's bowling well now

  • RandyOZ on November 9, 2011, 2:41 GMT

    @straight_drive4, could not have said it better myself. With such great depth in our bowling surely we can put someone else ahead of siddle. George, Coulter Nile, butterwoth, Pattinson, Cummins, Stac, Hazlewood, all get the nod ahead of him in my opinion.

  • cecil89 on November 9, 2011, 1:19 GMT

    Please do NOT pick Siddle. If I see one more test where Siddle runs in, huffing and puffing, then bangs it in short of a length, with no swing and no deviation off the pitch, I will go absolutely crazy. I'm so sick of putting up with his mediocrity in the Test team. Give me Copeland, Harris & Johnson with Cummins as 12th man. Then give Pattinson, Faulkner, George, Hazelwood, Coulter-Nile etc. a taste of the Aussie setup and send Siddle back to shield level where he might be able to learn some variation.

  • straight_drive4 on November 9, 2011, 0:26 GMT

    we dropped peter siddle after the ashes because he has no variety to his game and now all of a sudden he is back in the side? he is in the same category as hilfenhaus. he needs to be punished for his shocking performance over the summer. he should not get a start ths tour

  • Meety on November 9, 2011, 0:05 GMT

    @Optic - I think your handle is a misnomer!

  • on November 8, 2011, 23:52 GMT

    oh i think south africa will be shaking in their boots at the prospect of facing copeland's 115km/h thunderbolts.clarke prides himself on being an aggressive captain yet considers copeland's tight wicketless bowling a huge positive for the side. He wouldn't look out of place in a 3rd grade match. As for the other 2 it's a toss up but with siddle's form of late and the fact he played in the warm up game suggests he should get the nod.

  • smudgeon on November 8, 2011, 23:28 GMT

    I think I'd prefer Copeland or Cummins to Siddle. I don't really see Siddle troubling SA this time around, but I guess we'll see what happens tonight. Whoever it is will need to be able to bowl longer spells to allow Harris & Johnson to do what they do best, and that can be a thankless task. Copeland seems tailor-made for this role, one can't help but worry about his pace. You don't need to bowl at 150km/h to be effective, but an extra 5-10km/h of pace would make Copeland a truly difficult prospect at international level, rather than just a damn good domestic bowler. Or, to put it another way: whatever happened to Peter George??

  • Optic on November 8, 2011, 22:42 GMT

    @jonesy2 LOL that's exactly what Copeland is, so why argue different , I bet when you watch him bowl through that one eyed thing you've got going on, you see a bloke bowling 150kmh thunderbolts, not the trundler who struggles to get it over 125kmh that the rest of us see. 'Ah the depth'? lol more like ah the mediocrity, with a few other mediocre bowlers waiting in the wings. It's basically going to be the same set of bowlers you used in the Ashes but you've just changed from one joke spinner to another.Ah the depth.

  • RandyOZ on November 8, 2011, 22:26 GMT

    If siddle plays I am turning off the tele. The bowling department picks itself: Lyon , Jono, Copeland, Harris with Cummins as backup.

  • Peterincanada on November 8, 2011, 22:14 GMT

    I see that Katich has taken another three wickets against S.A. to go with the three against Vic. I have heard it said by some players that he is as good as any of the spinners in Australia. Another reason he should not have been dropped.

  • on November 8, 2011, 21:28 GMT

    Why is it that the name "Tendulkar' has to appear in the comments of a story about Australia and South Africa...... and totally out of context too.....I have noticed his name crop up in the past as well...when the main story is nothing about him or Indian cricket.....Yes he is a great player but give me a break..... And Mishra.....are you just a little concerned that Ricky might eventually score more runs than your hero.....even though that's not likely to happen...... Proud Aussie.....

  • Benster2 on November 8, 2011, 21:27 GMT

    Why are they considering dropping Copeland? We finally get a good young player who has been devastating at shield level and, so far, has performed at test level because gun barrel Siddle plays okay in a couple of matches (despite years of unthreatening bowling) and because cummins is reasonably quick and gets a bit of away movement? Cummins may have some potential - but he should not be selected until he can prove himself at shield level.

  • Gauthz on November 8, 2011, 21:05 GMT

    Seriously. Y are every one speaking about the sacking of Punter. Common Guys he is one of the legends when it comes to a batsman as well as a skipper. But unfortunately the leader role burdened him too much and that lead to a downfall in his batting. But now he will be back with a bang. Give some time to settle. One series is not enough to judge Uzzie or Punter.

  • bumsonseats on November 8, 2011, 19:11 GMT

    shove cumming into the test it will only do him good. siddle just an honest slugger. of the two, the saffers would prefer siddle over cummings. dpk

  • on November 8, 2011, 17:08 GMT

    CLARKE,PSST. USE CUMMINS TO GET TENDULKAR OUT. HE LIKES DEBUTANTS YOU KNOW! LOL.

  • tammimi2010 on November 8, 2011, 16:44 GMT

    Cummins...that must be a joke! We all know the Aussie selector mentality. Siddle will play

  • allieeb on November 8, 2011, 16:12 GMT

    Three pace bowlers should be Johnson,Harris and Siddle They will rip thru the SA side The weather will be ok come thursday, i stay in CT Go ozzies Go

  • on November 8, 2011, 16:08 GMT

    @cantthinkofone Even though I don't think Ponting should be dropped as he one of the most class batsman to have played, everyone has a right to their opinion so chill out man. Harris, Johnson and Siddle would be Australia's best attack and even though I'd love watching Cummins make his debut, Lyon will be the one playing in Cape Town coz of the slowness and dryness especially day 4 and 5. Hope Hughes does well. Gutted about Katich but two aggressive openers make for better viewing n seems to be a great contest with Morkel and Steyn.

  • zico123 on November 8, 2011, 15:57 GMT

    2 reasons why Australia is down to no. 4-5 in test ranking is they have been carrying 2 awfully out of form players punter and jojnson in their side for last 2 years, time to dump them and move on with youth cummins and Usman Khawaja

  • zico123 on November 8, 2011, 15:54 GMT

    both Cummins and Siddle should play along with ryan Harris, Australia should rather drop inconsistent mtchel johnson who delivers goods once in 6 months. just like Shaun Marsh grabbed his chance, Usman Khawaja looks technically very sound young rising star, but old punter needs to make way, he is blocking Australia's growth

  • jonesy2 on November 8, 2011, 15:11 GMT

    copeland a medium pacer? haha ok then so are most of the fast bowlers in the world. part of me wants to see cummins play but it would be far too unfair to leave sids out, he warrants his spot. ah the depth

  • on November 8, 2011, 14:57 GMT

    Fantastic!! I think it would be great to have Pat Cummins debut in the test. Its a good ides to have some new blood along with the older players to "steady the ship" if need be. Ricky Ponting is a solid player and i think he'l make a valuable contribution. Go team!

  • Cantthinkofone on November 8, 2011, 14:47 GMT

    Mishra, who are you to say that? You're not Australian?

  • on November 8, 2011, 14:46 GMT

    They wont pick Cummins the selectors will go for tried an true like they always do.They are so predictable a 10 year old could pick the side they will go for that one pace bowler in Siddle the useless Johnson an the broken down Harris you wait an see

  • on November 8, 2011, 14:38 GMT

    ponting should be dropped from this australian sqaud

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  • on November 8, 2011, 14:38 GMT

    ponting should be dropped from this australian sqaud

  • on November 8, 2011, 14:46 GMT

    They wont pick Cummins the selectors will go for tried an true like they always do.They are so predictable a 10 year old could pick the side they will go for that one pace bowler in Siddle the useless Johnson an the broken down Harris you wait an see

  • Cantthinkofone on November 8, 2011, 14:47 GMT

    Mishra, who are you to say that? You're not Australian?

  • on November 8, 2011, 14:57 GMT

    Fantastic!! I think it would be great to have Pat Cummins debut in the test. Its a good ides to have some new blood along with the older players to "steady the ship" if need be. Ricky Ponting is a solid player and i think he'l make a valuable contribution. Go team!

  • jonesy2 on November 8, 2011, 15:11 GMT

    copeland a medium pacer? haha ok then so are most of the fast bowlers in the world. part of me wants to see cummins play but it would be far too unfair to leave sids out, he warrants his spot. ah the depth

  • zico123 on November 8, 2011, 15:54 GMT

    both Cummins and Siddle should play along with ryan Harris, Australia should rather drop inconsistent mtchel johnson who delivers goods once in 6 months. just like Shaun Marsh grabbed his chance, Usman Khawaja looks technically very sound young rising star, but old punter needs to make way, he is blocking Australia's growth

  • zico123 on November 8, 2011, 15:57 GMT

    2 reasons why Australia is down to no. 4-5 in test ranking is they have been carrying 2 awfully out of form players punter and jojnson in their side for last 2 years, time to dump them and move on with youth cummins and Usman Khawaja

  • on November 8, 2011, 16:08 GMT

    @cantthinkofone Even though I don't think Ponting should be dropped as he one of the most class batsman to have played, everyone has a right to their opinion so chill out man. Harris, Johnson and Siddle would be Australia's best attack and even though I'd love watching Cummins make his debut, Lyon will be the one playing in Cape Town coz of the slowness and dryness especially day 4 and 5. Hope Hughes does well. Gutted about Katich but two aggressive openers make for better viewing n seems to be a great contest with Morkel and Steyn.

  • allieeb on November 8, 2011, 16:12 GMT

    Three pace bowlers should be Johnson,Harris and Siddle They will rip thru the SA side The weather will be ok come thursday, i stay in CT Go ozzies Go

  • tammimi2010 on November 8, 2011, 16:44 GMT

    Cummins...that must be a joke! We all know the Aussie selector mentality. Siddle will play