Pat Cummins 'aiming to play all six' Tests over English summer

After waiting over half a decade between his first and second Tests, Cummins will play his 50th in the WTC final

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
There were times when Pat Cummins thought playing one more Test was beyond him, but as he prepares for his 50th game, the Australia captain hopes he can double that tally before his career finishes and aims to feature in all six on this tour of England.
In the World Test Championship final against India, Cummins will lead an attack that includes Scott Boland after Josh Hazlewood was held back with an eye on the Ashes that follows. For both Australia and England the prospect a quick bowler will be able to play all the Tests in a condensed summer schedule has felt unlikely. But while Cummins acknowledged that some rotation was to be expected, he did not want to be one of those benched along the way.
"I mean it's a balance," he said. "I've been exhausted and depleted before but still got up and felt like I did a really good job. But if that comes up at any stage, of course, it's a conversation. I'll be aiming to play all six and there's some good breaks in between every batch of two Tests matches so I think it's manageable. Cam Green helps out a little bit as well with the amount of overs he can bowl."
Cummins made his Test debut in November 2011 but it was more than five years until he played again as he was plagued by back injuries. However, since then he has shown impressive resilience and has only missed three Tests through injury: two against Pakistan in 2018 and one against West Indies last year. The other three he has missed came through Covid (England in Adelaide during 2021-22) and when he returned home from India earlier this year to be with his mother before she passed away.
With Test No. 50 now on the horizon it is a record he takes considerable pride from, especially given the days early in his career when he would wake up from bowling short spells barely able to move.
"I thought getting back into Test cricket was so far away for a lot of that," he said. "I felt that maybe I could play a T20 or one-day cricket, but my body, [after] 10 overs a day I would wake up and felt like I had a car crash. Looking back now, all the physios and people who went through this before me were spot on. Stay patient, you will turn a corner and be right. But when you're in your fifth cycle of stress fractures, 50 Tests feels like a long way away.
"Longevity, I always look at as as big of an achievement as average or strike rates or anything to do with performance. Test cricket is tough. You play all around the world, different conditions. Physically it is demanding. So as a fast bowler to play 50, it is something to be pretty proud of. Particularly because for five or six years it felt like one [more] Test match was a long way away."
Only one fast bowler - Glenn McGrath - has played more than 100 Tests for Australia. It's a mark Cummins would like to join but even though Australia still play a healthy amount of Test cricket it would mean carrying on well into his mid-30s.
"I would love it if I wasn't halfway yet," he said. "But we'll wait and see. I feel really good, I have had two or three months off, so I am feeling the best I have for a couple of years. [It's] series by series, but I have just turned 30. Binga [Brett Lee] played into his mid-30s. Starcy and Josh are three or four years older than me and they are still pretty fit. So we'll see how we go."
While Cummins is eyeing many more years ahead as a Test cricketer, he does not have a problem with David Warner mapping out in great detail how he hopes to bring the curtain on his international career over the next 12 months.
Last week Warner, who enters the WTC final and Ashes with question marks over his form, said he wanted to make the SCG Test against Pakistan his swansong in the format although he did acknowledge that he would need to score runs to ensure the selectors did not make an earlier call for him.
"That's fine," Cummins said Warner's plans. "He's played over 100 Test matches so you never have to worry about Davey getting up for anything. [He] is the first one to know he's got to score runs. We'd love a fairytale finish with Davey in Sydney, but obviously he's got to be scoring runs which I'm sure, and history suggests, he'll be scoring some runs."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo