Lehmann excited by 'superstar' Cummins and Australia pace depth

Darren Lehmann felt India feared Pat Cummins and said: "We've got to keep him on the park now, that's the challenge."

Australia fast bowler Pat Cummins   -  Getty Images

Australia coach Darren Lehmann has hailed Pat Cummins as a "superstar" and would welcome the opportunity to field the youngster alongside Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and James Pattinson in a fearsome, four-pronged pace attack.

Cummins' return to the Test arena – more than five years on from his debut as a teenager – represented one of the biggest positives from Australia's tour to India, which saw Steve Smith's side exceed expectations but lose the four-match series 2-1 courtesy of an eight-wicket defeat in the final Test.

Speaking in Dharamsala a day on from that defeat, Lehmann reflected on the return of a player who has suffered significant injury trouble, while commenting on the possibility of Cummins playing as one of four frontline quicks. Asked for his views on Cummins, Lehmann replied: "Superstar – we've got to keep him on the park now, that's the challenge for the group.

"I think they [India] feared Pat Cummins – most teams will when you're bowling high-octane and you can swing it both ways and bowl short when you like. You'd love to have them [Cummins, Starc, Hazlewood and Pattinson] selected together. We've got to have them all fit to start with, that's going to be the biggest thing.

"We'll see what happens in the future, but it's exciting times for Australian cricket. They're so young, the group of players, and the way they've gone about it has been very impressive."

'Big Bird'

Cummins played the final two Tests in India as a replacement for Starc after the left-armer suffered a stress fracture in his right foot, while Pattinson has impressed in the Sheffield Shield following injury issues of his own. Yet Lehmann was also keen to talk up Jackson Bird, who toured India without making the Test team, and first-choice spinner Nathan Lyon.

"Big Jackson Bird, he's been excellent on this tour – he bowled really well in the tour game and hasn't put a foot wrong when he's played for Australia. We're starting to get some depth there," Lehmann added.

Of Lyon, the coach continued: "He was fantastic. I actually think his day-two bowling [in Dharamsala] was the best I've ever seen him bowl for Australia. That's a big call when someone's got 8 for 50 [in the second Test in Bangalore] and 8 for 100 on the previous tour ... but I think he's been brilliant on this tour."