Australia’s intent to fight the Border-Gavaskar series to the finish has been made clear by the calculated gamble of selecting Pat Cummins to replace the injured Mitchell Starc for the last two Tests in India.
“In selecting Pat, we were looking for a strike bowling replacement option,” Hohns said. “Pat has impressed in his return to cricket this summer with consistent performances in his ODI, Twenty20 International and Big Bash matches. He has also had a very good Sheffield Shield return for New South Wales, after six years off, where he made a notable Shield best 4-57 in the first innings, before bettering those figures in the second innings with 4-47 in his man-of-the-match performance.”
A raft of foot, side and back injuries in the wake of the 2011 Wanderers Test match caused Cricket Australia to take a longer view of Cummins, holding him out of Sheffield Shield and Test cricket while making use of him in the ODI and Twenty20 teams. His only first-class matches between 2011 and this year were for Australia A.
Late last year, Australia’s captain Steven Smith was quizzed on whether it was feasible that he could be working with Cummins during the India Tests. While saying such a scenario was “possible”, Smith reserved judgment by saying “he’s obviously got to play some Shield cricket first and see how he goes”. One Shield match, and an unexpected chance to push India all the way on the current tour, have turned possibility into reality.