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Cummins: 'Test matches are our favourite format. This win has got to be right up there'

Cummins, Steven Smith, David Warner and Mitchell Starc are now the first all-format champions in the men's game

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
11-Jun-2023
At the MCG in 2015, Dubai in 2021 and now at The Oval in 2023, four Australian players have lifted a world title. Pat Cummins, Steven Smith, David Warner and Mitchell Starc are now the first all-format champions in the men's game.
Unlike the two white-ball trophies which, although built towards in the years beforehand, happen entirely over a month or six weeks, the World Test Championship is a two-year marathon towards the final. Rohit Sharma said he would like a best-of-three series while admitting the schedule would not allow it, but unsurprisingly Cummins was quite happy with the status quo.
He wasn't quite willing to give the world titles a hierarchy - "it's probably like trying to pick your favourite kid," he joked - but Test cricket remains the pinnacle for this group of players, taking nothing away from those who feature only in limited-overs cricket.
"They all feel a little bit different," Cummins said. "We were just talking about that. No doubt Test matches for us are our favourite format. It's the biggest challenge I think in every way. This competition pitting up against everyone in the world, it has got to be right up there."
Most pleasing for Cummins was how over the course of two years, Australia approached different challenges along the way. They were handed a tough overseas draw in this cycle with away series in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India. They won only one of them - clinching victory in the final session of the final day in Lahore - but came away with three priceless wins overall, the last one in Indore securing their place in the final.
"I think that's one of the most satisfying bits," Cummins said. "Obviously the win here, but to make it to the final, you have got to win everywhere in the world. I think this cycle was 20 Test matches. I think we might have only lost three or four out of the 20. The boys were fantastic the whole way through. We adapted well and that's what makes it so satisfying."
The narrative would obviously have been different had Australia not won this Test, but they were the best team of these two years. Dominant at home and scrapping hard to get vital points on the road. They were worthy of the decisive margin in the final, which left no room for questions, producing their slickest session in the field on the last morning after having been a little below their high standards at various points during the game.
Scott Boland effectively ended the contest by dismissing Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja in the same over. Starc, who claimed Australia's first wicket of the WTC cycle by knocking back Rory Burns' leg stump at the Gabba, and the ultra-consistent Nathan Lyon then did the rest.
It has been almost impossible to divorce this final from what comes next, with the Ashes beginning on Friday. It has felt like a perfect tune-up, particularly with the final day not becoming a slog as could have been the case (and no doubt billions dreamed for) when Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane resumed in the morning.
"I think everyone played their role in this game at different parts," Cummins said. "Plenty of the batters faced quite a few balls. I think by the end of the game, all of us bowlers felt like we had hit a rhythm. I feel we have that good balance of feeling like we're ready to go but also fresh and ready for five Tests."
The flip side is that the celebrations will need to be somewhat measured with just four days before they take the field against England. "We can't celebrate as hard as we would like to with a game not too far away, but we have to be proud of our achievements for sure," Smith said.
Cummins, though, was determined that his team did not let this achievement wash over them.
"It's been an amazing two years," he said. "We've had this final in the diary for a while. It's been something that we had been building up for, so it is something we are going to savour. I know we have got a big series but we can worry about that in a couple of days' time.
"You only get a few of these moments in your career where you can sit back, acknowledge a pretty special achievement and that's one of these times."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo