Pat Cummins: A destiny-made leader to bring back typical Aussie dominance

From clinching the WTC title to retaining the Ashes, securing a World Cup triumph to blanking Pakistan at home, 2023 was undoubtedly Pat Cummins' annus mirabilis.

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Pat Cummins
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Pat Cummins. (Photo Source: X(Twitter)

“The bravest sight in the world is to see a great man struggling against adversity,” said the famous stoic philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca from Rome. The keen followers of cricket can feel these lines when it comes to watching the sensational journey of an Australian guy from Sydney, whose name reads as Patrick James Cummins.

It’s not a breeze to go through easily for an individual to take the field within a few days after the mother’s funeral, but it was Cummins who understood that his country needed him and he was back on the field to lead the Aussie side in their journey to the prestigious finals of the ICC World Test Championship 2023.

It was the mourning Thursday night on March 9, 2023, when Cummins’ mother, late Maria, breathed for the last time to be survived by 5 children. Fortunately, one of them was the leader of Australia’s national cricket team. To attend his mother’s funeral, he had to leave the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against India in the midway. 

Taking Test captaincy amidst leadership conundrum for Australia 

Australian camp was facing a big conundrum around the captaincy of the Test side. It all started after the then skipper Tim Paine’s ‘sexting’ scandal was revealed in the media. It was another setback in the leadership of the Aussie team which hit them three years after the infamous Sandpapergate of 2018 during Cape Town involving former skipper Steve Smith, alongside the veteran southpaw David Warner.

Amidst all this crisis, it was Friday, November 26 2021 when Cricket Australia announced the then 28-year-old Pat Cummins as the full-time skipper of the Australian Test team. It was the first time in the history of Australian cricket that a pace bowler was appointed as the full-time skipper.

The Westmead lad went on to capitalise on this opportunity to the fullest of his potential and he was all set to feature in his first assignment as captain; it was none other than the oldest cricketing rivalry Ashes where Cummins took the centre stage and led the team with his exemplary performance, claiming a five-wicket haul in his first Test innings as captain, during the first Test of the Ashes 2021-22.

Even after missing the second Test due to COVID, he ended up as the leading wicket-taker for the third successive time in the Ashes, scalping 21 wickets, in four matches to lead the side to a remarkable 4-0 win against England.

Arrival of an ODI leader for Australia

Almost a year after he was appointed Australia’s Test skipper, Cricket Australia on November 17, 2022, named Cummins as the ODI skipper as well. The board came up with this decision two months after former skipper Aaron Finch’s retirement from the 50-over format on September 10, 2022. Aussies were eyeing their preparations for the ODI World Cup 2023, which was to be held in India, two years after Cummins was named as the ODI skipper.

However, Cummins had captained Australia only in four ODIs before entering the ODI World Cup 2023, in India. He also missed the ODI series against India in the aftermath of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in March 2023 due to his mother’s death.

WTC Final and Ashes 2023: Start of Pat Cummins’ year to remember for ages

Australia under the captaincy of Cummins made it to the final of the World Test Championship for the first time. They took on the first edition’s runners-up India in the final of the coveted tournament at the Kennington Oval in London from June 7 to 11, 2023. He bagged three scalps in the first innings, including two precious wickets of Indian skipper Rohit Sharma and the veteran batter Ajinkya Rahane to break the backbone of the Indian innings.

Later in the second innings, Cummins scalped only one wicket but still, it was a big blow for Team India as the Aussie skipper dismissed none other than the veteran Cheteshwar Pujara. Eventually, Australia won the WTC 2023 final by 209 runs and became the first team to clinch the titles in ICC tournaments across all the formats.

Within five days of Australia becoming the WTC champions, June 16 marked the start of the Ashes 2023; it was also the start of the World Test Championship 2023-25 cycle. Running in high spirits, Australia registered two successive wins in the first two matches of the Ashes 2023, continuing their champion intent from the WTC Final win. However, the Englishmen managed to win two matches out of the remaining three, including a draw in the fourth Test; so, the series ended with an equal scoreline of 2-2 with Australia retaining the Ashes for the second consecutive time under Cummins’ captaincy.

ODI World Cup 2023: The unforgettable feather in Cummins’ illustrious cap

When all teams landed in India for the 13th edition of the ODI World Cup in 2023, the five-time champions Aussies had the least experienced skipper among all participating captains in the marquee international tournament. It also reflected in the initial phase as Cummins’ men lost their first two matches successively against India and South Africa. 

But then came the journey of Australia in the ODI World Cup 2023 in which they didn’t look back till they achieved the historic feat. Registering seven consecutive wins in the league stage, Australia made it to the semi-finals of the tournament, where they defeated the Proteas by three wickets to clear the books after a group stage defeat against Temba Bavuma’s men.

Furthermore, the stage was all set for an India-Australia ODI World Cup final after 20 years since both the teams faced each other in the final of the 2003 ODI World Cup. Australia completely dominated in the summit clash, with skipper Cummins scalping two important wickets of Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer. He played a crucial role in restricting India to 240 in the first innings. Australia comfortably chased the target courtesy of Travis Head’s brilliant century and clinched their record-extending sixth ODI World Cup title and the second ICC title under the captaincy of Cummins. 

Last but not least, the 30-year-old also became only the third pace-bowling skipper to claim a five-wicket haul in three consecutive Test innings, a feat that he achieved in the recently-concluded three-match Test series against Pakistan.

The man of Cummins’ calibre truly deserves the lines from a poem by Belinda Stotler - “I wish my Mother was standing at my side, I remember she saw more than I thought I could be, and know I owe my triumphs to her belief in me.”

Wherever she is now, your mother is smiling at you and she is proud that her son didn’t lose in the grief, instead, he opted for the battlefield and got crowned as a victorious warrior. 

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