Cummins has come of age after battling injury setbacks

The Aussie pace sensation says he is now a much improved bowler since making his debut in 2011 as a 17-year-old.

Pat Cummins has so far played in 12 Tests, 39 ODIs and 18 T20Is for Australia.   -  AP

Australian speedster Pat Cummins says he 'enjoys' playing cricket in India and that "playing my first Tests in six years in 2017 in Ranchi and Dharamsala restarted my Test cricket career and will always hold a special place".

Although Australia lost the four-match Test series 1-2, Cummins, who featured in two Tests, snapped up eight wickets at an economy of 3.14, second only to Josh Hazlewood's nine wickets at 2.47 who played all the four matches.

"I spent a lot of time in India in 2017. To have billion people, all cricket crazy following their teams, it is an amazing experience," he told Sportstar.

Having been brought up on pitches with pace and bounce, Cummins thinks "the basics of bowling (in the sub-continent) still stay the same and you look more at the batsman you’re bowling against rather than the wicket."

"But in somewhere like India, my slower ball usually spins a bit more than back in Australia and a bouncer is still a good option," he explained before adding, "To be honest, I think the biggest difference is the size of the outfields which are a lot smaller usually than back home."

Looking forward to IPL

After completion of the ongoing four-match Test series against South Africa, now levelled 1-1 -Cummins will fly to India where he'll represent Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018.

The three-time IPL champion acquired the pacer for a whopping Rs. 5.6 Crore and Cummins is excited to learn 'how to bowl yorkers effectively' from MI bowling coach Lasith Malinga.

"Obviously one of the great T20 bowlers who has set the benchmark for a long time. His thought process about bowling in the death overs," is something Cummins is looking forward to during his time with the franchise.

Read: Cummins puts Australia in control as South Africa collapse

And what does he make of India's newest death-over specialist Jasprit Bumrah - his team-mate in MI?

"Bumrah has been such a consistent player for MI and now India in the past few years. A great wicket-taker up front and then a great mix of slower balls and fast yorkers at the death, I’m glad I don’t have to face him," he said.

Cummins, who was Man of the Match on his Test debut at the Wanderers, for his seven-wicket haul - believes he has come of age since.

"I'm a very different bowler than back then. Looking back at the footage I can’t believe how different my action and run up looked," he said.

"I feel I am a lot more measured in the way I bowl now. By this I mean I feel I am a lot more accurate and control the swinging ball better which means going flat out every single spell isn’t necessarily my best and only option."

'Challenging and frustrating'

However, the going hasn't exactly been easy for the 24-year-old. Despite making his debut way back in November 2011, Cummins only has 12 Tests to his name; recurring injuries often getting in his way.

And he describes the phase as "really challenging and frustrating."

HEEL INJURY (TENDER LEFT HEEL)DECEMBER 2011Australia’s home summer of cricket in 2011-12
RECURRENCE OF HEEL SORENESSMID-2012Ruled out of Australia’s tour of the West Indies
MEDIUM GRADE SIDE STRAINJULY 2012Ruled out of England series
STRESS FRACTURE IN HIS BACKOCTOBER 2012Missed the entire 2012-13 season
LOWER BACK STRESS INJURYAUGUST 2013Ruled out of third consecutive home summer.
STRESS FRACTURE IN HIS BACKSEPTEMBER 2015Ruled out of Bangladesh Test tour


"I was lucky to have a dream career at the age of 17, and each time I came back I felt like I was still bowling really well but my body just couldn't keep up with the rigours of international cricket.

"So feeling like I was so far away from a consistent career in First Class cricket was frustrating, after I had a taste, loved it and felt like I was ready for it in many ways (other than my body)," he noted.

Also read: Captains Du Plessis and Smith clash over Rabada decision

The last 12 months, however, have been vastly different for the young fast bowler. He remains injury free and is bowling with admirable pace - his 23 wickets from five Tests in Australia's successful Ashes campaign being the silver lining.

"About 90 percent of the time has been spent on tour which is great. It means the main purpose is recovering after a game and finding that balance between feeling fresh and being fully prepared for the next game," he said.

But how does he manage the workload?

"We all do this in different ways but for bowlers a lot of it is just spending time off our feet, doing ice baths and pool sessions and then fit in some gym sessions to try and maintain strength."

Aggressive bowling

With tournaments like the IPL, big hits have become a regular feature. That said, has T20 actually increased the value of bowlers who can mitigate the carnage? Cummins certainly thinks so.

"I think the trend in the past few years is that the most successful teams are the best bowling sides," he observed.

"Every team has a few batsmen that can take the game away from the other side and make a big score, but the bowlers are the ones that win those 50-50 games and can turn a small target into a big one.

"As a bowler, I love seeing the emphasis on aggressive bowling up front and the defensive death bowling at the end."

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