Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Pat Cummins is born - the complete bowler
May 8, 1993 - There was a time when physios were struggling to keep him on the field and now, Pat Cummins is the No. 1 Test bowler in the world. In 2019, Cummins was the leading wicket-taker across all formats and finished the year with 99 wickets, out of which, 59 came in Tests, 31 in ODIs and 9 in T20Is.
Cummins has occupied the top spot in the ICC bowler's Test ranking for quite some time now. He has a lead of more than 50 points from Neil Wagner who is at the second spot. In ODIs as well, Cummins is the fourth-best ranked bowler. He is in elite company with Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Kagiso Rabada being the others in top five.
Ever since the quick made his debut for New South Wales during the 2010-11 season and attracted attention in the first-ever Big Bash season, topping the bowling charts with 11 wickets at 14.09 while giving away runs at just 6.59 runs an over, he was earmarked for greatness.
His praise spread far and wide in no time as a result of which, he was offered a central contract for 2011-12, becoming the youngest player to be contracted since the current system was introduced in 1998. The youngster did not have to wait much for his Test debut as he stepped out in Johannesburg in November 2011 to play his first match against South Africa where he bagged match figures of 9 for 141 at the age of just 18.
However, the journey would not be about the rise and the rise alone. For the next six years, following the special debut, he could not turn up with the baggy green.
It began with a trivial-looking bruised heel after the South Africa series. But, things kept getting worse. A side strain in June 2012, then a stress fracture in the back in November, which would occur twice more, in August 2013 and September 2015, both ending his seasons prematurely.
"The initial injury was really frustrating in that I'd played one Test," says Cummins. "And with that first injury, the second Test felt like it was getting further and further away. And the naive 18-year-old started turning to, 'Maybe I'm a fragile 18-year-old who isn't up to the rigours of international cricket. The hardest thing was not being able to play. If you're out of form, you can kind of take not playing. There's a reason for it. But when your body's not fit, it's totally out of your control."
More than the physical rehabilitation, it is credit to Cummins that he kept his mental belief strong. Otherwise, for a player of his talent, not being able to showcase it at the big stage, could easily have activated the self-destruction mode.
Cummins made a comeback to Test cricket six years later and played a full summer in the format, against England and in South Africa, where he picked up 22 wickets, which included nine in Johannesburg - the venue of his debut - before picking up another injury. The recovery though didn't take long this time and he took a career-best 10 for 62 against Sri Lanka in Australia's next home summer.
On the India tour of Australia in 2018-19, Cummins almost single-handedly kept the team afloat in the wake of the Sandpaper-gate. Apart from being Australia's leading pacer and picking up 14 wickets at 27.79 in the 4-match series, he was also the team's fifth-highest run-getter.
In the recent series against Pakistan and New Zealand in the 2019-20 season, Cummins - the most expensive overseas player in the IPL - starred again with 20 wickets and is on the path to leading Australia in the five-day format at some point.
© Cricket World 2020