South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Johannesburg, 4th day November 20, 2011

Cummins delighted at debut display

17

It was hard to wipe the smile off Pat Cummins' face at the end of the first day of this Test, when he had taken one wicket. On the fourth day, his grin seemed as permanent as Hashim Amla's beard.

At 18, Cummins had become the second-youngest man in Test history to take a six-wicket haul, behind Bangladesh's Enamul Haque jnr. He had been on a hat-trick. He had outbowled his more senior colleagues. Most importantly, he had given Australia a fighting chance of victory in a match that 24 hours earlier appeared to have slipped from their grasp.

And all this from a man who began the year uncapped at state level.

"It's surreal to be overseas playing cricket for Australia," Cummins said. "To be in the position where we can win a game is certainly special as well."

By the close of play, Australia were 168 runs from what would be a series-levelling win. Were it not from the way Cummins bowled either side of lunch, they would have next to no chance.

First, there was the outswinger that got rid of AB de Villiers, full enough to encourage the drive and curvy enough to catch the edge. It ended a 147-run stand between de Villiers and Hashim Amla, a partnership that threatened to take the match out of Australia's reach.

After lunch, Cummins struck first ball when a fierce bouncer clipped Vernon Philander's glove on the way through to Brad Haddin. A yorker accounted for Morne Morkel next ball. As Cummins stood at his mark, on a hat-trick and bowling to Imran Tahir, his aim was simple.

"A couple of the guys said Tahir wouldn't be the worst batsman to bowl a hat-trick ball at," Cummins said. "I was just trying to bowl it as quick as possible and as full, and at the stumps. Unfortunately he fended it away."

It was a fine ball, for a hat-trick delivery: full and straight. He finished the innings with 6 for 79 when Dale Steyn edged behind. It completed a brilliant debut bowling performance from Cummins, Australia's second-youngest Test player of all time.

It was all the more remarkable considering the expectations that have been placed on Cummins. He entered the match with a reputation that belied the three first-class games he had to his name. Cummins said playing away from home had been a blessing, although it was still daunting at first to bowl to men like Amla and Jacques Kallis.

"Just knowing what the batsmen are capable of here, you see them on TV and you've heard about them, the big averages come on the scoreboard," Cummins said. "It is more daunting but once you get into a spell you start to forget about those things.

"You're removed from a few of the pressures that Australia give you and the attention that you get over there. That's helped, and also having a team that I'm pretty familiar with. We've been here for almost a month and a half, so I'm hanging out with the same bunch of guys."

He'll be hanging out with them for a while yet. Cummins has become a certainty for Australia's first Test of the home summer, against New Zealand on December 1 at the Gabba. The only doubt is how his young body will handle a full season of Test cricket.

That's a question for another day. For now, Cummins deserves to be celebrated.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Meety on November 22, 2011, 0:17 GMT

    AND he got the winning runs!

  • rajputvikram on November 21, 2011, 11:48 GMT

    no doubt he is good bowler, but why so much hype...is it bcoz he is an aussie?? there are bowlers around the world who are also delivering at the same pace but without a mention..strange. Also when indian will be visiting them next month...i am sure they will play the name "Pat Cummins" and not the bowler. They are always scared of high profile bowlers.

  • Green_and_Gold on November 21, 2011, 9:33 GMT

    He has started well but give the kid some time to bed himself into the side - remember when johnson first played SA and was hailed as the next great thing. Lets hope that he gets better as he learns his trade on the international platform.

  • chishtyirfan on November 21, 2011, 7:03 GMT

    Good for OZ. Wish him best of luck for bright and long career.

  • Tootsie on November 21, 2011, 4:37 GMT

    Cummins will be even more effective with a decent bowler at the other end. Siddle and Johnson just cannot apply any sustained pressure.

  • jonesy2 on November 21, 2011, 4:37 GMT

    what an unbelievable unit. he bowls with pace, he bowls with malace, pat got amla, then he got kallis.

  • L.P.Grace on November 21, 2011, 4:07 GMT

    Already alot of expectations on this young kid whose body is still unproven. If he can stay fit, he should have a long career ahead of him. IF he can stay fit.

  • RandyOZ on November 21, 2011, 4:02 GMT

    The best fast bowler in the side since McGrath, this guy is a world beater.

  • Marcio on November 21, 2011, 3:50 GMT

    Yes, a great find, but has to be managed carefully, as many have stated. How sad it was though to see MJ doing the same old same old, and Siddle the same. The selectors think that somehow these guys will see through the Matrix code and morph into Matrix supermen. It's not going to happen. With MJ, his time is up. That is as clear as day.

  • orangtan on November 21, 2011, 1:30 GMT

    Great debut but he will break down and then be forgotten. Still no one to matchl Lillee or McGrath.

  • Meety on November 22, 2011, 0:17 GMT

    AND he got the winning runs!

  • rajputvikram on November 21, 2011, 11:48 GMT

    no doubt he is good bowler, but why so much hype...is it bcoz he is an aussie?? there are bowlers around the world who are also delivering at the same pace but without a mention..strange. Also when indian will be visiting them next month...i am sure they will play the name "Pat Cummins" and not the bowler. They are always scared of high profile bowlers.

  • Green_and_Gold on November 21, 2011, 9:33 GMT

    He has started well but give the kid some time to bed himself into the side - remember when johnson first played SA and was hailed as the next great thing. Lets hope that he gets better as he learns his trade on the international platform.

  • chishtyirfan on November 21, 2011, 7:03 GMT

    Good for OZ. Wish him best of luck for bright and long career.

  • Tootsie on November 21, 2011, 4:37 GMT

    Cummins will be even more effective with a decent bowler at the other end. Siddle and Johnson just cannot apply any sustained pressure.

  • jonesy2 on November 21, 2011, 4:37 GMT

    what an unbelievable unit. he bowls with pace, he bowls with malace, pat got amla, then he got kallis.

  • L.P.Grace on November 21, 2011, 4:07 GMT

    Already alot of expectations on this young kid whose body is still unproven. If he can stay fit, he should have a long career ahead of him. IF he can stay fit.

  • RandyOZ on November 21, 2011, 4:02 GMT

    The best fast bowler in the side since McGrath, this guy is a world beater.

  • Marcio on November 21, 2011, 3:50 GMT

    Yes, a great find, but has to be managed carefully, as many have stated. How sad it was though to see MJ doing the same old same old, and Siddle the same. The selectors think that somehow these guys will see through the Matrix code and morph into Matrix supermen. It's not going to happen. With MJ, his time is up. That is as clear as day.

  • orangtan on November 21, 2011, 1:30 GMT

    Great debut but he will break down and then be forgotten. Still no one to matchl Lillee or McGrath.

  • on November 21, 2011, 0:00 GMT

    the new brett lee, hope he has a long career as a wonderful performer for Aus in cricket........ Look out india

  • Meety on November 20, 2011, 23:53 GMT

    Hopefully the weight of expectation does not touch him. I suppose his selection lends some weight to the allowance for selectors to go with their guts rather than stats. Everybody that has had anything to do with him felt he was ready & would do well, seems they were right. Craig Mac - had a lot of expectation on him & at times he delivered - other times it went horribly wrong. Anyways - he will have a good work out v the kiwis before as tough a test as you can get, coming up against a batting line up with 5 batsmen with 46+ averages.

  • sam_laker on November 20, 2011, 22:26 GMT

    Pat Cummins is the man to run through the Indian batting line up in this summer. Hope he stays fit and strong!

  • on November 20, 2011, 21:45 GMT

    Pat Cummins is the best thing to have happened in cricket for years

  • Beertjie on November 20, 2011, 20:58 GMT

    Good on yer, Patty Cummins. I hope you get the support bowlers to help you this summer. Starting with Harris, who like Watson, needs to be handled super-sensitively. The latter needs to drop down to 4 where he'll be happiest. The former could perhaps play every alternate test. Johnson must be consigned to Shield cricket. The logical third bowler is Siddle or Copeland. Why not alternate Bollinger with Harris since neither has great endurance. That way we'll get the most out of them. Mitch can be recalled for the WACA where he'll bag a few as one of a 4-prong pace attack.

  • on November 20, 2011, 20:34 GMT

    At last Australia found the right bowler. Next thing is put more young players in the upcoming NZ series by getting rid of Poniting, Haddin and Hussy.Not because they are not good any more ,its time best do the change.

  • Khem on November 20, 2011, 19:37 GMT

    He seems to be a fine find thus far. I hope he remains injury free and have a long career. I am sure australia will balance his workload smartly and prolong his career. It will be interesting to see him bowling at best batting line up (on paper and records) late this summer

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Khem on November 20, 2011, 19:37 GMT

    He seems to be a fine find thus far. I hope he remains injury free and have a long career. I am sure australia will balance his workload smartly and prolong his career. It will be interesting to see him bowling at best batting line up (on paper and records) late this summer

  • on November 20, 2011, 20:34 GMT

    At last Australia found the right bowler. Next thing is put more young players in the upcoming NZ series by getting rid of Poniting, Haddin and Hussy.Not because they are not good any more ,its time best do the change.

  • Beertjie on November 20, 2011, 20:58 GMT

    Good on yer, Patty Cummins. I hope you get the support bowlers to help you this summer. Starting with Harris, who like Watson, needs to be handled super-sensitively. The latter needs to drop down to 4 where he'll be happiest. The former could perhaps play every alternate test. Johnson must be consigned to Shield cricket. The logical third bowler is Siddle or Copeland. Why not alternate Bollinger with Harris since neither has great endurance. That way we'll get the most out of them. Mitch can be recalled for the WACA where he'll bag a few as one of a 4-prong pace attack.

  • on November 20, 2011, 21:45 GMT

    Pat Cummins is the best thing to have happened in cricket for years

  • sam_laker on November 20, 2011, 22:26 GMT

    Pat Cummins is the man to run through the Indian batting line up in this summer. Hope he stays fit and strong!

  • Meety on November 20, 2011, 23:53 GMT

    Hopefully the weight of expectation does not touch him. I suppose his selection lends some weight to the allowance for selectors to go with their guts rather than stats. Everybody that has had anything to do with him felt he was ready & would do well, seems they were right. Craig Mac - had a lot of expectation on him & at times he delivered - other times it went horribly wrong. Anyways - he will have a good work out v the kiwis before as tough a test as you can get, coming up against a batting line up with 5 batsmen with 46+ averages.

  • on November 21, 2011, 0:00 GMT

    the new brett lee, hope he has a long career as a wonderful performer for Aus in cricket........ Look out india

  • orangtan on November 21, 2011, 1:30 GMT

    Great debut but he will break down and then be forgotten. Still no one to matchl Lillee or McGrath.

  • Marcio on November 21, 2011, 3:50 GMT

    Yes, a great find, but has to be managed carefully, as many have stated. How sad it was though to see MJ doing the same old same old, and Siddle the same. The selectors think that somehow these guys will see through the Matrix code and morph into Matrix supermen. It's not going to happen. With MJ, his time is up. That is as clear as day.

  • RandyOZ on November 21, 2011, 4:02 GMT

    The best fast bowler in the side since McGrath, this guy is a world beater.