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Ashes thrashings excites Pat Cummins for challenges ahead

Australia's bowling depth has captain believing they have "options for anywhere in the world"

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Pat Cummins' immediate priority is to continue the domination of England for two more Tests as Australia target another Ashes whitewash, but after securing the series in less than 12 days he believed they were building a squad that sets them up for more success in the years to come.
The standout feature for Australia across their three crushing victories has been the depth of their fast bowling. Scott Boland spectacularly added his name to the list with an astonishing haul of 6 for 7 at the MCG to follow Jhye Richardson's five-wicket return in Adelaide and a solid debut for Michael Neser and the development of Cameron Green.
Cummins' own absence for Adelaide due to being a Covid close contact was barely noticed, as has been the case with Josh Hazlewood missing the last two games through injury and Richardson not being risked in Melbourne.
"Our bowlers have been fantastic. Haven't even felt like there's been one session where it's got away from us," he said. "It's what dreams are made of, the way we've played. And outside of the results there's so many other positives; we've been able to have a couple of debutants, really build a squad of 15-odd players. It doesn't just feel like a 3-0 victory, feels like we are setting ourselves up for the next few years as well."
Australia will face much sterner batting line-ups than this historically poor England side, but after last season's loss against India a return to home dominance has left Cummins confident ahead of the challenges to come which involve three subcontinent tours to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India in the current World Test Championship cycle.
It has been more than two years since the side has played Test cricket overseas - they are due to tour Pakistan in March - and there will be different questions posed to them, notably the playing of spin and whether they rebalance the attack with a second frontline spinner or stick with the pace bowlers. Legspinner Mitchell Swepson continues to wait for his Test debut which would appear unlikely to come during the Ashes.
"The World Test Championship is a big thing," Cummins said. "Absolutely want to be in that final. Winning away from home, we've got a great opportunity to go over on a couple of subcontinental tours. Think that's a really big challenge for any team, you can see England coming here it's foreign conditions for them. I feel like it's building. Think we have options for anywhere in the world."
Having missed the Adelaide Test, Cummins is only seven playing days into his captaincy having been thrust into the job when Tim Paine resigned a couple of weeks before the series. It could have destabilised the team, but Cummins and Steven Smith have formed an excellent leadership pair and Alex Carey has eased in behind the stumps. Alongside the return of Travis Head No. 5 and Marcus Harris' gusty innings in Melbourne there are few areas that have not come together.
On a personal level, a whirlwind few weeks was still sinking in for Cummins - he was a key part in retaining the Ashes in England in 2019 and in a couple of weeks, so long as the series can navigate Covid, will be holding the urn up in Hobart.
"I don't think it's fully hit me yet," he said. "Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, those were the captains I grew up watching and idolising so to be in a similar position is just awesome. When I think about what it means, I think more about for our group of players.
"We've got seven players in the top 10 of the world at the moment and we probably haven't strung the performances over the last couple of years that we expect of ourselves. This really consolidates that we are a really good, strong Test side and a good sign for the next few years."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo