back icon


It happens just like that for Pat Cummins

Last updated on 28 Dec 2023 | 02:14 AM
Google News IconFollow Us
It happens just like that for Pat Cummins

When in doubt, Pat Cummins is always there with a five-wicket haul

“It's what you try to bowl most balls, but it's rare that it comes off,” Australian skipper Pat Cummins reflected on the magical delivery that removed Babar Azam after day two’s play at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). 

Humble, tranquil, yet proactive, Cummins is cut from a different cloth. 

In a country that has produced several characters, be it Merv Hughes, Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson, Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting or even Michael Clarke, Cummins is very different. He isn’t overly in your face and isn’t quite enigmatic, but the process laid out is towards the same goal: to be the best in the world. 

Cummins is so ahead of his contemporaries in world cricket at the moment that every dismissal of his feels like a repeat broadcast. Since the start of 2021, no other pacer has picked up more wickets than the Australian, who has picked up 94 wickets with an average of 24.3. 

It is almost like this magical card trick that David Blaine has perfected over the years. You have seen it several times, yet every time, you go, “How on earth has he done it?”.

Just like Blaine, Cummins has this uncanny ability to get out of trouble in any situation. At 124/1, with the pitch looking utmost dead - for the first time in the entire clash - Australia were desperately crying out for help. 

That’s when the 30-year old stepped in, and the passage that followed blew the minds of several. Whenever Cummins has the ball in his hand, the efforts always seem multiplied, and the result seems amplified. 

Abdullah Shafique showed brilliant technique and utmost composure at the crease till then. 

By then, he had already seen off Mitchell Starc’s left-arm threat, a nagging Josh Hazlewood and, more importantly, a burst from Nathan Lyon, fresh from his 500-wicket sojourn. With a 35-over old ball and an obstacle in front, Cummins took the challenge upon himself. It all happened in a split frame. 

Picture Courtesy:

But did it? It felt like that at the first viewing with how Cummins sprung himself to his left to pull off a one-handed stunner. But it was far away from that. On repeated viewing, it was a setup of a scientific order from the all-rounder, who went wider off the crease, getting the ball just away from the right-hander, who finally succumbed to the setup. 

"He was planning something for me because I was playing well there. He took a good catch as well. The conditions are much different compared to Pakistan and he's a good bowler,” said Abdullah after the second day’s play. 

Until the start of this Test series, Cummins had drawn blanks against Babar Azam. In fact, Babar is one of the rare top-order batters to have had a pronounced success against Cummins. But everything changed in this series. 

Coming into the MCG Test, Cummins had bowled a pearler to dismiss Babar in Perth, and that played a small yet visible role in the dismissal here at the ‘G. 

"That wasn't a deliberate ball to seam in. It's fifty-fifty whether it will seam in or out. You try to create a bit of an angle, and if I don't know what it's doing, hopefully, the batter doesn't know either,” said Cummins on the brute delivery that removed Babar. 

The ball pitched on the same spot like it was doing a 9-6 job, but the end result was quite magical. It moved a fair distance to hit the top of the off-stump to leave Babar brutalized. It took the Pakistan batter a while to get off the pitch. He was almost adamant that the ball didn’t do that. 

He even saw the Pakistan skipper Shan Masood at the other end, who didn’t have a word to say but had something better: a nod of approval. You could see the replay a thousand times and yet be dumbfounded just as you were in your first viewing. 

That’s Cummins. 

If that was day two magic, Cummins was at it yet again on day three, where he cleverly played to the thoughts of the batter - Mohammad Rizwan - in this case. Rizwan was batting brilliantly, getting on top of the bounce of every ball until then. 

With the slip fielder being an idle spectator, Cummins moved the fielder to another short cover position and forced Rizwan to drive through the air. 

To top it all off, the Australian captain bowled a pearler to remove Hasan Ali, who quickly removed his gloves and walked off without hesitation, for he was undone by a bit of magic, giving Cummins his third five-wicket haul at the MCG, his tenth five-wicket haul overall in Tests. 

“Just before (change of field), it was just flukey (Rizwan’s wicket) and it happens just like that,” Cummins said during the mid-innings break. 

It only happens just like that if your name is Patrick James Cummins.

Related Article