Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - At perfect Pat's perfect coronation. Even losing the toss turned out to be a win for Pat Cummins. It was that kind of a day.
Even losing the toss turned out to be a win for Pat Cummins. It was that kind of a day.
It was the perfect moment on a perfect day for the perfect captain. The official proclamation of Pat Cummins may have happened a few days ago, via a press release from Cricket Australia. This was his coronation in front of thousands of screaming Australians at a packed Gabba on the first afternoon of a home Ashes campaign. This was his real elevation into becoming the face of Australian cricket. And what a sight it was.
There he stood in the middle of one of the country's most iconic venues, holding the ball aloft, like it was his sceptre. Not only had Cummins led his team into an incredibly commanding fashion by polishing off England for 147 in 50.1 overs but he'd also led the destruction of the enemy himself, finishing with yet another five-wicket haul. But in that moment of absolute jubilation, came the realization that he could no longer focus on his own glories for too long, quite literally. For, the umpires wanted to know what roller the Australian team would like used before their batting innings resumed, as per protocol.
It was perhaps the only time throughout his maiden stint as Test skipper that Cummins was a step off his game. Later in the day, he would reveal to have been “thrown off” by the additional responsibility. He did recover though in time to catch Steve Smith's attention and ask for the heavy roller. Not like it mattered considering the arrival of the heavy rain that brought a premature end to the day's play. Cummins did, however, get the honour of leading his side off the field, both as their captain and their star performer, as 20,000+ Australians at the Gabba roared in unison.
Apart from that little stutter with the roller, and a rather wasteful DRS call, Cummins had after all just had as near-perfect outing as Test captain. So good that even the one thing he did lose on Wednesday (December 8), the toss, turned into a victory eventually thanks to his bowlers' efforts.
Cummins finished with figures of 5 for 38
It kicked off with Mitchell Starc knocking back Rory Burns' stumps, behind his back, with arguably one of the most exhilaration-inducing opening deliveries, which is likely to be replayed a few times you'd imagine over the next decade or two. Then came the perfection of Josh Hazlewood's skill-execution on a pitch that seemed custom-made for his style of bowling. Not only did he knock out Dawid Malan and Joe Root, yet again, opening old scars for the England captain, he also then pulled off two sensational diving catches in the deep to further bury the visitors.
The first of those grabs by Hazlewood of course resulted in Cameron Green picking his first-ever Test wicket in his fifth outing. The second of course handed his longstanding pace colleague and now captain his fifth wicket. Behind the stumps, debutant Alex Carey made a very noticeable impression, pouching three smart catches, like he's been doing this for a while in this format. And then there was Cummins himself, using himself in a lengthier spell than the other two who were rotated around in short bursts. Most importantly, a majority of his bowling changes worked the trick and got him wickets, that trait that every captain wants to capture in a bottle and carry around but can't. Based on how he went on his first day on the job, maybe Cummins can. There will be tougher days, cricketing logic will suggest, but for now perhaps, we don't need to look any further than the first impression he's made at the helm.
Another much-anticipated outcome that evaded Cummins and Australia was Nathan Lyon getting to his 400th Test wicket. But even there, it was when the world-class off-spinner came into the attack that we witnessed the collaborative approach to captaincy that Cummins had hinted at, with Steve Smith chipping in with field placements and general ideating. Cummins had spoken a day before the Test about his limited knowledge when it comes to the nuances of spin bowling too for good measure.
“Josh and Pat have almost brought that blueprint from the previous Ashes over in England where they seemed to have their plans down pat to Joe” – Pat Cummins
Through it all, he came across as a captain who knows what he wants and will make sure he gets his way. And so he should. He came across as a powerful character. And you couldn't help but say, more power to him.
Later in the day, there would be quirks of captaining a side as a fast bowler that Cummins had to get his head around. Like fielding at mid-off during and after his spells. Having substitute Michael Neser run out a napkin after every single over to help deal with the extreme humidity in the Brisbane air.
It had also felt like a slightly rushed morning for Cummins. He'd walked to the Gabba blazer in hand, around 2 hours before the start of play. A few basic warm-up routines later, he'd had chats with coach Justin Langer, debutant Carey and a couple of others.
He'd then started going through his pre-match bowling routines earlier than his fast-bowling colleagues, like he said he'd have to on the eve of the match. And then on went the blazer and off he went to the pitch to toss the coin.
From that point on, since he walked away from the pitch and received a quick friendly jibe from Smith over losing the toss, it all went the new captain's way. As for England and Root, their pessimism with the batting approach and a few obvious technical deficiencies got badly exposed on a not-so-menacing Gabba pitch.
It was the kind of day when a Smiley balloon ended up aimlessly floating into the English dressing-room and had to be handed back to the crowd by a jovial Jonny Bairstow. There were no surprises that it was handed back. It was more a surprise that the balloon didn't burst or lose its smile during its brief spell in the visitors' box, much like everything else did on an opening day to forget for England.