Pat Cummins reaches new heights: Australia vs India cricket


Pat Cummins’ star continues to rise after his one-man show at the MCG with both bat and ball earned him high praise.

The fast bowler took 9/99 in the third Test against India on a lifeless track — including six wickets in the second innings that featured a blistering four-wicket spell late on day three — and posted the Aussies’ only half century of the match, scoring 63 in the final innings.

The sensational effort has seen the 25-year-old shoot up the ICC rankings as he reached new heights in the bowling and all-rounder categories. According to the updated rankings, Cummins is now the third best five-day bowler in the world behind only England’s James Anderson and Kagiso Rabada from South Africa.

He’s also the only Australian in the top 10 as both Nathan Lyon (11th) and Josh Hazlewood (14th) slipped down.

With 80 scalps from 17 outings, Cummins has the best average (23.25) and strike rate (49) of the bowling quartet to have been given the job against India this summer.

And in a sign of just how heavily the Aussies are relying on the New South Welshman he’s also shot up to be included as one of the world’s best Test all-rounders. He sits seventh on a list topped by Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hassan, sandwiched between Ravichandran Ashwin in sixth and Moeen Ali in eighth.

In the midst of a batting crisis exposed by the absence of the banned Steve Smith and David Warner, the home side’s willow wielders were embarrassed in Melbourne to be rolled for 151 in the first dig and 261 in the second.

They only got as many as they did in the final innings thanks to Cummins, Mitchell Starc (18) and Nathan Lyon (seven from 50 balls) — prompting calls for Cummins to be promoted up the order.

The speedster insists he’s happy coming in at number eight, but as many pointed out during the Boxing Day Test, his willingness to play straight and treat each ball on its merits made him appear far more accomplished than many of his top order comrades.

Starc is ranked ninth out of the world’s all-rounders, which also puts him above Mitchell Marsh on the list — a damning indictment on the West Australian who doesn’t feature in the top 10.

The 27-year-old — who had a horror tour of the UAE and failed in both innings after being recalled to the Test team in Melbourne — has only a marginally better batting record than Cummins while wearing the baggy green. In 31 matches he averages 25.39 and has passed 50 five times, while Cummins averages 20.95 with two fifties in 17 Tests.

Starc’s record with the bat is similar. He’s scored nine half centuries in 48 Tests and averages 20.98, suggesting both he and Cummins offer almost as much value with the bat as Marsh and give the team more with the ball.

Australia has drafted batting all-rounder Marnus Labuschagne into the squad for the Sydney Test as many cricket commentators predict the axe will fall on the younger Marsh brother after a string of underwhelming performances with the bat that have put his Test career in jeopardy.

LANGER DESPAIRS OVER BATTING CRISIS

Justin Langer admits nobody is banging the door down as he mulls how to fix both Australia’s top six and a national batting crisis.

Labuschagne is expected to take Marsh’s place in the XI that folded in Melbourne, where the tourists retained the Border-Gavaskar trophy by snatching a 2-1 series lead.

Peter Handscomb may also earn a recall for the SCG series finale, although Langer’s description of Aaron Finch as “a really good player” and “great in the team” suggests the under-fire opener will be spared the axe. However, Finch could yet be demoted down the order as Langer and Tim Paine discuss the best plan for Australia to avoid suffering their first Test series loss at home to India.

Regardless of how much Langer tinkers before the fourth Test starts on Thursday, it’s clear there are big batting problems that extend beyond the squad.

“Try being a selector at the moment,” Langer told reporters. “We’ve got to be careful not to reward poor performances but … it’s not as if the guys are absolutely banging the door down.

“Most of our batters knocking on the door are averaging in the 30s (in the Sheffield Shield).” Usman Khawaja’s century in Dubai remains the only Test hundred scored by any Australian in almost a year, a horror slump that highlights how much the team relied on banned superstars Steve Smith and David Warner.

The top six’s collapses of 3/29 and 3/13 in Australia’s first innings at the MCG effectively ended their hopes of defeating India in the series. Steve Waugh and Shane Warne headline the greats to have condemned Cricket Australia for devaluing grade and Shield cricket, a topic covered in The Ethics Centre’s independent report.

Langer acknowledged recent results suggest domestic players are not being adequately prepared to make the step up.

“The art of batting, we’ve got some work to do,” Langer said. “Whether it’s the system … whether it’s something we’ve got to change in our psyche, I’m not sure.

“It’s something everyone is looking at.”

The former Test opener, renowned for putting a high price on his wicket, seemingly remains adamant Finch can make the cut in Test cricket after a couple of sloppy dismissals.

Langer noted Finch was having a lean run but also highlighted a pivotal 112-run opening stand in Perth that delivered Australia their first Test win since the Cape Town cheating scandal.

“He’s working harder probably than he’s ever worked … he’ll be better for this period,” Langer said.

“He’s the only guy playing all three forms of the game (for Australia) … he’s got to somehow recharge his batteries over and over and over again. It’s a great challenge.”

AAP

ICC TEST RANKINGS

Bowlers

1. Kagiso Rabada (SA) — 880 points

2. James Anderson (ENG) — 874

3. Pat Cummins (AUS) — 836

4. Vernon Philander (SA) — 817

5. Mohammad Abbas (PAK) — 813

6. Ravindra Jadeja (IND) — 796

7. Trent Boult (NZ) — 771

8. Ravi Ashwin (IND) — 770

9. Tim Southee (NZ) — 776

10. Jason Holder (WI) — 751

All-rounders

1. Shakib Al-Hasan (BAN) — 415

2. Jason Holder (WI) — 365

3. Ravi Jadeja (IND) — 364

4. Vernon Philander (SA) — 362

5. Ben Stokes (ENG) — 342

6. Ravi Ashwin (IND) — 327

7. Pat Cummins (AUS) — 307

8. Moeen Ali (ENG) — 292

9. Mitchell Starc (AUS) — 247

10. Chris Woakes (ENG) — 238

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Publish date : 2019-01-01 00:18:42

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