Cometh the Hour, Cummins de Man

Is it possible that an 18 year old debutant could be catapulted into the Australian cricket team and in just one match, become the main strike bowler?  It is hard to believe, even for the faithful but perhaps in the case of Pat Cummins, it is true.  Look at the scoreboard, look at the TV, watch the play, read Cricinfo or listen to the ABC – they will all tell you the same thing.  At end the fourth day of the 2nd Test in Johannesburg, Cummins was the only reason that Australia has a sniff of victory.

If it were not for Cummins, you would have to think that South Africa would have batted Australia out of the match.  They came close anyway.  Cummins took 6-79 and stood tall amongst his more experienced team mates.  He made the early break through, accounted for most of the top order, broke the two key partnerships of the innings and polished off the tail.  That’s impressive but it is the way in which it was accomplished has created the excitement.  Cummins not only has raw pace and ability but his bowling shows a control and maturity not evidenced in some of his partners.

Cummins’ emergence puts even more pressure on Johnson.  Johnson himself emerged as a super star on the last South African tour, almost three years ago.  The fact is he has very rarely delivered since then and he must have retained his place on the hope that he could deliver his best, and because there were not a lot of other options.  Pat Cummins may have come into the team because of Ryan Harris’s injury, but one thing is sure, when Rhino is fit, it will not be Cummins who makes way.  One wonders what Australia could achieve with Harris, Watson and Cummins all fit and firing.  And one may have to keep on wondering, I suspect.

The media is now drooling at the series coming down to the wire.  I agree that the match is well enough poised but Australia is still almost 200 runs behind.  Just two wickets in the first session of day five and it will be almost curtains. 

One thing Ponting has done, aside from keep Australia in the game, is made life difficult for the selectors.  The first major test for them will be how they handle Ponting’s exit from the game.  He has had a dismal tour and before this innings, he had made their lives easy – a failure in this innings and we were destined not to see Ponting in Australia again.  It seemed to me almost predictable that he would make some runs in this innings and create a headache for the selectors.  Ironically, his replacement, Usman Khawaja finally made a statement, as the two shared a partnership to resurrect the innings.

It will be very interesting to see how this match pans out and how the Australian team shapes up for the home summer.

7 thoughts on “Cometh the Hour, Cummins de Man

  1. man, I agree with you. Ranks are pretty bare and I too, sympathise with Pat. I agree with you about Harris, he has just too many injuries. And it looks like with Watson, the extra bowling is too much for him. Which is a shame, because those three, fully fit, have the makings of a good attack. But thems the breaks…

  2. interesting indeed. quite a good initiative. the thing they can’t guard against of course is a lack of any other strike bowlers which is what mcdermott largely faced. i guess he can sympathise if nothing else…

  3. andrewg, it is interesting that you draw the Cummins-McDermott comparison. I was reading before the Test where Cummins himself referred to same. In fact, CA have thought of everything and Billy is Cummins’ mentor on this tour to take care of all those concerns (I’m not making this up). Not sure if I could see McDermott as a great mentor (what did Tim May call him in “Mayhem” – Ali Barterman?) but there it is.

    It’s good to see India taking time to acclimitise. I recall last time they got off the plane and walked straight onto the MCG. I think they had a warm-up scheduled against Victoria and it was rained out. So they had no prep and it potentially cost them the series.

  4. cummins certainly bowled well. very impressively. let’s hope his experiences are not those of mcdermott, thrust into the side early, forced to take the mantle of strike bowler through lack of options, and then struggled under workload and pressure. he seems like a good kid and i wish him well.

    siddle looked very ordinary, honest but ordinary. johnson is just funny. harris…i’m not sure he’ll be a longterm success story of any note.

    on a side note, i’m glad to see the indians are playing two shortish matches against a ‘chairman’s xi’ before the first test in melbourne. should make for an interesting series if they can get some practice in on our pitches.

  5. one way or another, he’ll be retired by the end of the australian summer. i think he’ll want to go out on a high, so will hope that can happen against india. if it does work out for him, he can retire on that high. if it doesn’t, his position will be untenable and he’ll retire out of necessity.

    i reckon, deep down, he’d love one more go at the ashes in england, but i don’t think it will happen. if he were batsmen of the summer over the next few months, then the selectors may be put into a difficult position. but history tells us even the greats struggle to be consistently the best in the business during their twilight years. the pattern really is strings of averageness punctuated by great knocks which, i don’t think, will be enough for ponting.

  6. yes, ajebec, I think you will be right. Especially given injury clouds over Marsh and Watson, the selectors may need to fall back on Ponting. I don’t know if it does a lot of good though for the long run. If Ponting plays NZ and scores plenty of runs, and does not retire, he will play the India series and probably struggle like he has against South Afria. But you never no what negotiations will be carried out behind closed doors.

  7. i imagine that ponting has already done enough to hold his place for the new zealand series, particularly as the second is at bellerive, his home town test. because it’s not really a big ticket series, i imagine the selectors will let ponting have his lap of honour because there isn’t as much riding on it. his form in those two games will then determine whether he ‘retires’ before or after the india series. i think even the moderate success of this current innings (regardless of what he does in the final day) will allow the selectors the chance to put their ‘tough decision’ off for a month. i really can’t imagine ponting being officially dropped at this point.

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