After a nightmare summer, Pat Cummins is back.
In a major boost for Australia’s pace stocks, the teenage tearaway will take his first major stride towards selection for the West Indies tour when he bowls in the SCG nets.
Sidelined for the past 10 weeks with a heel injury, Cummins will bowl off a shortened run-up and hopes to be at full throttle within a fortnight, in time for Australia’s opening one-day clash in the Caribbean on March 16.
The 18-year-old said he was itching to tour the West Indies after a heel injury in his remarkable Test debut against South Africa last November wiped out his entire summer.
Cummins made history in Johannesburg when he became Australia’s youngest Test bowling debutant at 18 years and 193 days. He finished with match figures of 7-117 and claimed man-of-the-match honours after hitting the winning runs in Australia’s epic two-wicket win.
Cummins has left no stone unturned in his recovery, even using the $100,000 AlterG running machine of AFL side Sydney Swans, which reduced the impact of his body weight by 30 per cent.
“It’s a relief, I can see light at the end of the tunnel,” Cummins said.
“I’ve had three or four light bowls recently and I haven’t had any hiccups in the past month, so I’ll crank it up.
“I’ll bowl five overs off 10 or 11 steps, two-thirds of my run, so hopefully in another week or two I’m off my full run and bowling properly.”
The first of Australia’s Generation Next pacemen to break through, Cummins has been forced to watch in frustration as James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc leapfrogged him into the Test side.
But with the Windies touring squad to be named in the next fortnight, the Blues speed demon hopes to get the nod despite his lengthy layoff.
“It’s been hard to miss so much cricket, but in saying that I’ve been happy for the other bowlers,” Cummins said.
“It’s been frustrating for me, it’s been hard to put a timeline on things and it took a fair while for my heel to come good.
“But I’m building up now. I’m setting my target for the West Indies and hopefully I’ll be ready for the one-dayers and the T20s over there.
“I’d love to get selected.”
Australian Centre of Excellence chief and former bowling coach Troy Cooley said he was pleased with Cummins’ progress.
“I spoke to Pat the other day and he’s keen and raring to go,” he said.
“It’s good to have Pat back in the mix. We’ve unearthed a number of impressive young bowlers this summer. We have a nice blend now.
“He’s on schedule. He’s been doing everything right.”
by Buford Balony