Any cricketer who isn’t inspired by Cummins is in the wrong game. He is also an outstanding fast bowler with a big heart and has the much-admired knack of taking a wicket when it’s really needed
Australia’s Pat Cummins sets his field during the ODI World Cup semi-final against South Africa in Kolkata recently. Pic/Getty Images
Australia won an impressive sixth World Cup, thanks to dynamic fielding, batting and bowling heroics and enormous self-belief. However, the captaincy of Pat Cummins should not be overlooked in assessing Australia’s excellent achievement.
Cummins was always going to be a good captain. Overlooking for a moment the difficulties of being a fast-bowling skipper, Cummins was easily the most inspirational player on the Australian team and he’s blessed with cricketing common sense.
Troubles the best
Any cricketer who isn’t inspired by Cummins is in the wrong game. In addition, Cummins is an outstanding fast bowler with a big heart and has the much-admired knack of taking a wicket when it’s really needed. To cap it off, he’s a bowler who regularly troubles the opposition’s best batsmen.
These qualities make him amply qualified to be an inspiring captain. The rest is a matter of him captaining the Australian side and seeing what he can make of the job. The only way to improve as a captain is to do the job, make the odd miscalculation and quickly learn from any setbacks.
Cummins has not only proved himself a worthy Test captain, his leadership has now expanded to where he’s also a successful 50-over skipper. I thought he’d be a good captain but he’s exceeded my expectations.
The other point to consider is the quality of some of the rarely selected bowling captains. The best examples of bowlers making good to great captains are Imran Khan of Pakistan, Richie Benaud of Australia and Ray Illingworth of England.
In Imran’s bracket
By performing well as a captain in different countries and formats and in a variety of conditions, Cummins is putting himself in that category. Only Imran, of that trio—an excellent leader of great presence—played in an era of rapidly increasing limited overs matches.
Also Read: Batsmen with most runs in a calendar year
Imran crowned an excellent captaincy career by guiding Pakistan’s “skilled rabble” cricket team to an outstanding World Cup win in 1992. Cummins has now equalled Imran and Kapil Dev’s laudable achievements of clinching a World Cup trophy as a fast bowling skipper.
Don’t be fooled by the controversy surrounding coach Justin Langer and his eventual departure. Once appointed, Cummins had earned the right to choose the coach he wanted. Cummins now works with coach Andrew McDonald, but be in no doubt who is running the cricket side of things—it’s as it should be, the captain.
Whilst I can guarantee from personal experience that a lot of codswallop is written and spoken about what happens on the cricket field, it is refreshing to watch Cummins and his team in action. Cummins’s side is often spoken about as an ultra-aggressive Australian unit minus the ugly side effects.
I’d put Cummins in the same bracket as Mark Waugh and Anil Kumble—fierce competitors who convey their intentions purely by their actions. Shooting your mouth off doesn’t make you a tough player—quite often it’s exactly the opposite.
Cummins also deserves credit for speaking out on off-field issues. It’s not easy in the dog-eat-dog social media climate for a current player to take a stand but Cummins has had the guts to be front and centre on an issue he is passionate about.
In acknowledging an invitation from Cummins to a “climate effect on cricket” symposium, I’m not only declaring my involvement but also expressing an admiration for the captain’s stand. Cummins is absolutely serious about climate’s effect on the planet.
Skirmish with Stokes
There’s no doubt Cummins has had his challenges as captain. His battle with Ben Stokes—an excellent captain—was one such instance. Cummins’s captaincy experience will be improved by having an intense skirmish with Stokes.
Someone once wisely wrote, “Good captaincy is like pornography; it’s hard to define but you know it when you see it.”
Cummins was the right choice as Australian captain and he’s done an extremely good job.
Even in the ultra-demanding climate of Australian cricket, Cummins has earned the right to remain captain for as long as he wants the role.