Having taken the reigns of Australian test captaincy on the eve of this Australian summer, it would’ve been hard to predict Pat Cummins would lead Australia to Ashes victory within 12 days of test match cricket.
But he sits today as an Ashes-winning captain, having calmly guided his side to a blistering innings and 14 run drubbing of England at the MCG. Yet the Aussie skipper is refusing to sit back and rest on his laurels, instead, signaling that this latest series win is the start of something bigger for his team.
“It doesn’t just feel like a three-nil victory, it feels like we’re setting ourselves up for the next three years as well,” Cummins said.
“It’s worked out fantastically so far – winning early on day three at the MCG just doesn’t happen, for a lot of guys in the team to win their first Ashes series is a great feeling.”
Cummins has had the perfect start to Test captaincy, bowling superbly and leading the team with aplomb as the Australian side cantered to retaining the urn. The skipper couldn’t fault a single part of their Ashes campaign so far, saying “everything has gone to plan” and that the peerless three test matches so far have been “what dreams are made of”.
The New South Welshman now joins an Australian cricket pantheon of test skippers who have led an Ashes series win, and he could be in for more glory in the coming weeks as the home side chase another whitewash series. From a kid playing local cricket and idolising these names, Cummins now can’t believe he is the latest name to be etched in the history books next to his heroes.
“I don’t think it’s fully hit me yet – I grew up in the backyard watching Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting and idolising them, so to be in a similar position is awesome,” he said.
“It felt a million miles away from me playing in the backyard, but a decade later to be in that position is madness.”
But the Aussie skipper believes there’s more success on the horizon, alluding to the current strong crop of players at his disposal. In their best XI, seven of the players are in the ICC’s test top ten rankings (three bowlers and four batters), with debutants coming in during the series and also showing they are capable of making an impact at test level.
None proved this more so than Victorian Scott Boland, who bowled the Australians to victory in his debut test on day three with scintillating second-innings figures of 6-7 in only four overs. Although the record-breaking spell may have shocked many, Cummins and his teammates weren’t surprised to see Boland dominate on the big stage.
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“We’re not overly surprised, we knew he was going to do a great job for us at the MCG, but probably taking 6-7 is a surprise,” Cummins said.
“When you bring in an experienced player, why they’re so valuable isn’t just to do with their on-field presence, it’s that they’re very level and really measured. He’s been really calm and confident in his own ability.”
The skipper will quickly soak up the historic MCG victory before levelling his eyes towards the next test in Sydney. But Cummins will also focus one eye towards future fixtures and a bigger goal that dances above the eyeline of the victorious Australians.
“We’ll enjoy a couple of days and refocus, it’s moments like these where everyone is clicking and playing well that you want to make the most of it,” he said.
“The test championship is now a big thing, I absolutely want to be in that final in a couple of years’ time – winning away from home is another; the opportunity to go on subcontinent tours is a big challenge for any test team.”
“When Australian cricket has been at its best, the test side wins at home and has a really good record away – I feel like it’s building, we have options for anywhere in the world.”
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