‘Comfortable’ Captain Cummins: A leader like no other

Pat Cummins is the new Australian test captain. (Image: Cricket Australia)

Born on May 8, 1993, Patrick James Cummins has become Australia’s newest test captain. A boy from the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, his journey is not like any other.

To use a term that is more associated with football, Pat Cummins, at 17 years of age, was a ‘wonderkid’.

Cummins made his first-class debut for New South Wales on March 3, 2011, against Tasmania, before playing the side again two weeks later in the Sheffield Shield final.

He earned his first Cricket Australia contract in June that year before representing the Australia in a couple of T20I’s against South Africa.

Selectors were extremely impressed with Cummins and decided to hand him his first baggy green on November 17 that summer, making him the youngest Australian to play test cricket since Ian Craig in 1953.

Just a decade and nine days later, it was announced that Cummins would become Australia’s test captain and will wear the captain’s blazer on the morning of the first day of the Ashes at the Gabba on December 8.

Pat Cummins becomes the first regular bowler to captain Australia since the late Richie Benaud last did in February, 1964, over 57 years ago.

“Feeling overall, excitement, as opposed to being too nervous about what might happen,” Cummins told media on Friday.

“There’s a couple more unknowns about having a bowling captain and that’s why from the outset I was absolutely determined to have someone like Steve [Smith] as vice-captain,

“We’re so well planned these days with not only the players we have around us, but the staff. I feel like I’ve got quite a lot of experience to draw on that I think a lot of the potential issues around being a ‘fast-bowler captain’ I’m sure we’ll be able to work through.”

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Pat Cummins and Steve Smith will become the most dynamic captain/vice-captain partnership that Australia, alongside the rest of the cricketing would, has ever seen.

“I think one of the reasons of why there’s been talk around fast-bowlers not being able to captain in the past is just (because of) the workload issue,” Cummins said.

“There’s going to be times where I’m out in the middle, it’s a hot day, I’m in the middle of a spell and I need to turn to people for advice, for tactics, for experience.That’s one of the main reasons as to why I wanted Steve to be the vice captain.

“It potentially could look different to how we’ve seen [captaincy] partnerships work in the past. There will be times in the field where I’ll throw to Steve, and you’ll see Steve moving fielders around, maybe doing bowling changes and taking more of an elevated vice-captaincy role.”

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Cummins was adamant that his new role as captain does not mean he will be telling his teammates how they should be playing, instead looking to drive the cohort to play to their individual strengths and experience.

“I’m gonna look to be really collaborative, we’ve got a great stable of senior players in the side, great staff, so I’ll be leaning on everyone. I’m big on empowering individuals to really own their role and take control of that,” he said.

“So you won’t see me telling someone how to bat or how to bowl, they’re playing for Australia for a reason. I’m there to protect their freedom, I want to back them in, try to remove distractions and relieve pressure off them.

“I’m certainly not perfect, there’s going to be things that pop up, but as long as I can sleep at night, I’m really comfortable with the responsibility of that.”

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Cummins’ appointment of being named Australia’s test captain adds a fresh narrative to the upcoming Ashes series that is rarely, if ever, seen in test cricket when he comes on to bowl to the England captain Joe Root.

Number one ranked test bowler and Australian captain, Pat Cummins, bowling to number one ranked test batter and England captain, Joe Root, could be the focal point of the Ashes this summer, but that doesn’t faze Cummins in the slightest.

“I honestly haven’t thought of that, he’s [Root] batting really well at the moment, he’s had a really good year for England,” Cummins said.

“He’s no doubt going to be their biggest wicket, being the captain, being their most in-form batter.

“I don’t think being a captain myself puts any added responsibility, or adds to the contest. The way I see it, I’m a big believer in sorting out and thinking about your own game, not getting too caught up in the opposition, and that’s how I’ve been preparing and will do so until the test match.”

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The journey for Cummins has been unique and inspiring for fans, and especially young cricketers.

Having made his test debut at an incredibly young age before going through such a gruelling period, it’s been a long journey to the top.

Battling a back injury for as long as he did, making his comeback to Australian team, working his way to becoming the standout leading bowler in test cricket, and now, test captain, he’s breaking the stigma of bowler captains.

There’s never been a cricketer like Patrick Cummins. He’s reliable, disciplined, modest, a role-model, and the archetype that all young cricketers should strive to operate like. And now, he’s broken a 57 year long barrier.

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