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Pat Cummins: The Road to Test Supremacy

Man of the match in the very first Test at the tender age of 18, played his second Test match 5 years after the dream debut and now, at 27, he’s the number one ranked bowler in Test Cricket; Patrick James Cummins’ cricketing journey has been one heck of a rollercoaster ride, to say the least.

Pat Cummins, as aforementioned, is the number one bowler in Test Cricket currently. Moreover, he was named the Test Cricketer of the Year 2019 by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for his prolific performances in the longest game format.

With 143 wickets already in mere 30 Test matches, he’s currently the hottest thing in Aussie cricketing scenes and will continue to be so if he keeps up with the recent form. The Australian pacer also tops the 2010’s decade record for having the best bowling average in Test cricket in 2010s.

But Cummins did not achieve all these accolades and appreciations overnight. He started as a talented bloke who couldn’t sustain his form due to injuries, and it took immense willpower, dedication, patience, and discipline to become the phenomenon that he is today.

The Initial Days

Pat Cummins came into limelight for the first time during the preliminary final of the 2010–11 KFC Twenty20 Big Bash playing for New South Wales against Tasmania as he took 4 for 16 and won the ‘Man of the Match’ award. He finished as the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with 11 scalps in 6 games.

In March 2011, he made his first-class debut in a match against Tasmania and, on the back of his consistent performances, gained the national contract just 3 months after his first-class debut.

In October, another 3 months later, he made his international debut and played two Twenty20 International (T20I) matches for Australia against South Africa.

Based on his reliable bowling performances in these games (3/25 and 2/26), Cummins was picked in the Test squad to play against South Africa.

Cummins’ dream to play Test Cricket came true when he made his Test debut at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg in November 2011, in what was only his fourth career first-class match, becoming Australia’s youngest Test cricketer since Ian Craig in 1953.

Cummins opened the bowling alongside Mitchell Johnson in his first test itself. It didn’t take him long before he could experience the joy of picking his first Test wicket as he dismissed the ever-so-dependable Hashim Amla and finished with 1/38 off 15 overs in the first innings.

The first innings was good considering it was his debut game, but Cummins exceeded all the expectations in the second innings as he single-handedly tore apart the Proteas batting line-up with exceptional figures of 6/79, becoming the second-youngest Test cricketer (behind Enamul Haque Jr.) to take six wickets in an innings. He also scored 13 runs in the second innings, including a boundary to win the match and was quite deservingly was adjudged the Man of the Match.

From there, everything looked achievable for Cummins, but his body had other ideas. Several injuries, primarily a stress fracture in his back, hindered his cricketing career in his initial days and couldn’t make a comeback to the national side for some years.

The Long…… Wait

Sidelined from the national duties due to injuries, Cummins kept working on his fitness and improving his skills but still couldn’t find a way to regain his lost place in the Australian squad.

His dedication and determination paid off when Cummins was called-up for the 2015 Ashes squad after the retirement of Ryan Harris, but he couldn’t feature in the Starting XI even once.

Pat Cummins Ashes 2017
Pat Cummins at a practice session during training with the New South Wales state cricket team in Sydney, 2017.

Fast-forward to 15th March 2017, Cummins finally got to play his second Test after 1946 days (5 years, 3 months and 27 days, or precisely 278 weeks) against India in Ranchi during the 3rd Test of 2016-17 Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

In any sports, comebacks are always tougher than debuts, and Pat Cummins must have felt it too when he finally got to play his second Test match.

Putting all the hardships aside, Cummins actually made most of the opportunity and bowled really well. Toiling hard for 39 overs, Cummins conceded 106 runs and picked up 4 wickets in the first innings. The high-scoring match ended in a draw, and Cummins couldn’t get the chance to bowl in the second innings.

In the next match of the series, Australia fell short in front of the hosts despite a decent showing by Cummins, who picked up 4 wickets in the match.

Later in August, Australia toured Bangladesh for a 2-match Test series, which was a historical series for the hosts as they defeated Australia for the first time in Test Cricket. Despite losing the first game, Australia leveled the series 1-1 with a victory in the second one. Even in such spin-friendly tracks of Bangladesh, Cummins picked up 6 wickets in the series.

The Rise From The Ashes

After consistent performances in India and Bangladesh tour, Cummins was yet again picked up in the Australian squad for the home Ashes of 2017-18, but only difference from his previous Ashes selection was that he got the feature in the playing XI, that too in each match of the 5-match series.

The fact that he played all the 5 Tests is an inspiration in itself considering he had to wait over 5 years to play his second Test the to injuries. Moreover, he didn’t just play but performed; performed to the fullest.

virat kohli dismissals most times by a bowler in test
Dismissal of Virat Kohli by Pat Cummins in the Adelaide Oval Test, 2018.

Cummins, with 23 wickets, finished the series as the leading wicket-taker earning him heaps and praises from everywhere. Though he was consistent throughout, he went one up in the fifth and final test, picking up 4-wicket hauls in both the innings.

His performance gave him the well-deserved ‘Man of the Match’ award and Australia the victory by an innings and 123 runs.

In November, Cummins was bestowed with the Allan Border Medal, Australia’s highest cricketing honour for his top-notch services wearing the Baggy Green.

After a successful Ashes performance, Cummins found looked in an absolutely different league altogether, which was quite visible in his bowling in the following tour to South Africa, a tour that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

While the Australian Cricket faced massive backlashes resulting from the unethical incidents that occurred during the tour, if there was anything positive for them, it was the consistent performance of Pay Cummins. Despite the team getting thrashed 3-1 in the four-match series, Cummins bowled his heart out, picking up 22 wickets.

After the controversial South Africa tour, Australia hosted India for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2018-19, which continued the sorrows for the team. Cummins picked up 14 wickets in 4 matches, including a 6-wicket haul in the third Test as India took the trophy by whining the series 2-1.

Stats lookup: Pat Cummins has the most successful wicket-picking rate against Virat Kohli in Tests, among the bowlers, who have dismissed the Indian captain the most in the format.

2019: The Year Of Pat Cummins

After two colossal series defeats against South Africa and India, Australia invited Sri Lanka over for a 2-match Test series. With a relatively young and underperforming side, Australia produced a magical performance in the first Test defeating the Lankan lions by an innings and 40 runs.

Not-so-surprisingly, Pat Cummins was the star for Australia yet again. The pacer bagged his maiden 10-wicket haul in Test cricket returning figures of 4/39 and 6/23 in the first and second innings, respectively.

Pat Cummins Ashes 2019
Pat Cummins in Ashes 2019 picked up 29 wickets in 5 Tests (Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian)

In the second Test, Cummins added 4 more wickets to his tally and finished with 14 in the series claiming the ‘Player of the Series’ award.

With such brilliant performances consistently, Pat Cummins moved to the top of the ICC Men’s Test Match Rankings for Bowlers overtaking the South African speedster Kagiso Rabada.

Cummins became the first Australian since Glenn McGrath in 2006 to reach the No.1 position in ICC Test Rankings for bowlers. It’s been over an year now since his climb to the pinnacle, and he’s yet to be dethroned.

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He followed that up with a ‘Player of the Series’ award in the away Ashes picking up 29 wickets in 5 matches. His incredible numbers made sure Australia drew the series 2-2 and retained the ‘urn’ as well.

Pakistan toured Australia for 2 Test matches later in the year as Cummins was on top of his game in this series, picking up 8 crucial wickets and aiding his side to win both the matches.

The most recent Test series that Australia played before the coronavirus outbreak was the 3-match series against their arch-rivals New Zealand. Pat Cummins, once again, showed his A-game with 12 wickets in 3 matches, which transpired to a 3-0 clean sweep by the Aussies against their Trans-Tasman rivals.

Rewarding his spell-binding spells in 2019, ICC named him the Test Cricketer of the year. Moreover, he was named as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year for his performances in the 2019 English season in the 2020 edition of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack.

Likewise, Pat Cummins was also bought for 15.5 Crores (the highest amount for an overseas player in the tournament history) by Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL Player Auction towards the end of 2019 for the next edition; making 2019 quite remarkably ‘the year of Patrick James Cummins.’

Here are every Test wickets, taken by Pat Cummins on Australian soil:

Wrap Up

Throughout his career, Pat Cummins has been slammed to the ground several times, but what makes him such an exceptional human being is that he has retaliated every time with an enormous leap.

In this article, we only talked about his accolades and credentials in the Test format but not to forget, he also has 105 ODI wickets and 36 T20I wickets in 64 and 28 matches, respectively.

Taking his recent form into account, Cummins is sure to go down as a ‘legend’ when he hangs up his boots. But that is a long time away, and for now, all we can wish is to see International Cricket back and the best Test bowler showing his magic with the cherry in his hand.

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