It’s been trumpeted as a new era of Australian cricket, with the Argus review recommending sweeping changes. It’s been a positive beginning, with Michael Clarke leading his men to a 1-0 win away in Sri Lanka.
The poster boy for this new change, is 18 year old New South Welshmen, Patrick Cummins. He’s had a meteoric rise from star in the making after taking 11 wickets in last year’s Big Bash competition to someone who was supposed to play a handful of T20is for Australia to now on the cusp of his international debut.
Cummins burst onto the scene when New South Wales, down on bowlers due to international commitments and injury was picked for a Big Bash match against Tasmania in Sydney. He took three wickets and almost got NSW over the line but they fell just short.
Pat helped NSW make the final of the Big Bash before they were beaten by South Australia. This strong form earnt him two List A matches for NSW but they yielded no return.
The litmus test would be first class cricket and if Cummins could maintain his 140-150km/h speed throughout a whole day. It wasn’t a roaring success but Cummins got through three games, taking nine wickets. Good but not earth shattering for the talk of bringing him into the test side.
If anything, Cummins needed more time to settle in first class cricket and make himself a standout there to become a regular in NSW’s side, with a battery of fast bowlers all pushing for places.
While his debuts have been successful, Cummins was brought back down to earth with his two following performances in the one day series, taking two wickets and leaking runs.
Now, with the ODI series done Cummins SHOULD be heading back to Australia to continue developing for NSW. That isn’t the case though, he is remaining in South Africa as the last choice seamer (made clear by the tour match going on currently) and will be carrying the drinks for the two tests.
While there is no doubt, he’ll gain valuable insight from the old heads in the Australian team, there is no substitute for playing especially as NSW need all the resources they can get currently. They have fourteen players unavailable through either injury or international selection which would allow Cummins an extended run in the side.
A chance which would give him a chance to work on his rough edges like maintaining his pace through an entire innings, day or spell and not getting too predictable in when he delivers the slower ball which has been devastating until now.
Overall though, Cummins is a work in progress and needs to be managed correctly, to not end up like other Australian tearaways Brett Lee and Shaun Tait who have retired from first class cricket. Test cricket needs to have pace bowlers, not only to continue a fine tradition but to once again fill stands across Australia and the world.