Resourceful Cummins abides with Australia’s needs

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Neither were particularly difficult ones. They happened at a time when Australia were fighting to ensure that India did not streak past 450,after being corralled for so much of their innings on an MCG pitch that seems to be both meeting (it is slow and low) and confounding (it is deteriorating) the expectations of players and ground staff alike.
What was most remarkable about these misses, was that anything involving Cummins could be seen as an error at all. So exemplary, resourceful and intelligent had his bowling been, and so consistent his threat despite the meagre assistance the surface provided him, that it was a genuine surprise to see him put a foot or a hand wrong.
The value of Cummins to Australia as an overall cricketer and not merely a pace bowler was to be underlined in the closing overs of the day. After Virat Kohli finally declared, Cummins spent barely a minute resting up in the cool of the home dressing room before padding up to serve as nightwatchman in the event that Aaron Finch or Marcus Harris fell before stumps.
If this sounds like cruel and unusual punishment for Cummins, after he had been the chief reason for most of India’s uncomfortable batting moments over the preceding two days, then it was hard to imagine him complaining in anything but the most light-hearted of ways. In the way Cummins bowls, plays and carries himself, he is perhaps the closest thing Australia currently have to an archetype of the “it’s your game” mantra being repeated at every available moment of this summer.
“I think the way that Patty keeps fronting up and coming back is a real testament to his fitness, the amount of work he’s done off the field to get himself into the condition he is to back up Test after Test,” Finch said of Cummins. “He probably didn’t get the rewards he deserved in the first two Tests, but you’ve heard every coach say it, you can bowl a lot worse and get a lot more wickets.
“I’m sure his rewards will come, the way he’s bowling is outstanding. There’s pace, there’s bounce, when there’s not a lot happening he seems to be the guy who can make something out of nothing. That’s really exciting for Pat, especially how long he’s been back on the park, and touch-wood that continues for a long time.
“He’s a super player, talent with the bat, with the ball, in the field, although he dropped one today that’s beside the point. He’s just a super package as a cricketer and an even better bloke. He’s just a bloke who’s great to play cricket with.”
The sort of cricket Cummins plays is fierce without being nasty, intimidating without being abusive. He has searing pace, a steep trajectory seemingly devised to hit gloves and bat handles, and the ability to move the ball in the air and off the seam. But he is also highly intelligent in his use of these elements, adjusting lengths, lines and angles on the crease to adapt to conditions as quickly as about any fast man in the game.
All this was summed up by how on Boxing Day he was able to conjure a steepling bouncer to pin Hanuma Vihari just as the first obituaries for the MCG pitch were starting to be composed after an hour of featureless cricket. Any further confirmation was to be found in the sequence he put together to dislodge Cheteshwar Pujara, after India’s No. 3 had pieced together another sterling occupation that had some wondering whether he might challenge Alastair Cook’s similarly steely 244 this time last year.