Pat Cummins is widely regarded as a nice guy with an excellent cricket brain who stubbornly overcomes injuries in his early career to reach the top of the game. A decade after making his international debut, he is not only the world’s leading bowler, but Australia’s 47th Test skipper, elevated to one of the country’s highest profile roles, after Tim Paine quit due to a sexting scandal. “He has received the utmost respect from his teammates and everyone in world cricket. He has earned it from the way he has behaved,” said test legend Shane Warne of the 28-year-old Sydney-born.
Earmarked as a potential star from a young age, Cummins burst onto the scene at the age of 18, taking seven wickets to create a two-wickets win and achieve man-of-the-match in a test against South Africa in Johannesburg in 2011 .
He also made waves for New South Wales and in the Twenty20 Big Bash League, but then came the injuries that prevented him from playing another Test for six long years.
A series of lumbar stress fractures derailed his career and plagued him with doubt.
“I just remember I was ultra-frustrated,” Cummins said last year. “Everyone wanted to talk about my debut, but I wanted to prove myself again and again and show that it was not just once.
“I felt like the only thing holding me back was my body and there was no real end in sight. It was some tough years.”
He came out of the dark times – and the pain and rehabilitation that came with it – a stronger person and cricketer and his perseverance saw him again selected for Australia’s tour of India in 2017.
With his strengthened body, he came through the subcontinental test unscathed and quickly became a mainstay in all three formats along with other fast Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc – not only a consistent and reliable paceman, but a destructive one.
His 34 tests have yielded 164 wickets at 21.59, to go with 111 ODI scalps and 42 in T20s.
“Pat is extremely intelligent, an excellent player and has an excellent cricket brain, so it’s ideal for the role,” former Australian captain Greg Chappell said in a column for the Sydney Morning Herald last week.
“Crowds love him and see him for what he is – a clean skin that always sets the heart for Australia, and a robust guy who has overcome injury challenges with pure perseverance, dedication and character.”
Cummins was promoted to vice-captain in 2019, but even has some captain experience.
Captains traditionally stand close to the wicket to control matters, and as Australia’s first fast bowler of the modern era wearing the armband, he will be forced to lean heavily on experienced teammates.
Michael Clarke, another former captain, told reporters he would need all hands on deck to support him as Australia face the old enemy England over five tests starting in Brisbane on 8 December.
“I think (Steve) Smithy, Davey Warner, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, these guys all have a leadership role to play. Patty will need them all,” he said.
“That’s why I feel the time would be right for Pat Cummins because he has these senior players around him and I think it would be important for Patty with his workload and definitely (getting his head around him ) what it takes to list Australia. “
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