Opinion: Why Pat Cummins deserved to win the Allan Border Medal ahead of David Warner?
Cummins was the man who toiled throughout the year for Australia and bettered his record from the previous year.
Published - Feb 12, 2020 12:45 pm | Updated - Feb 12, 2020 12:45 pm
Less than a year after serving his ban for the infamous Sandpaper Gate incident, a sharp-suited David Warner heard his own voice sputter on stage as he delivered an emotional speech following his third Allan Border Medal. The explosive opener answered all questions that were pointed towards his unpredictable return with conviction right from the outset, most markedly in the World Cup where he accumulated no less than 647 runs in 10 innings at a stunning average of 71.8.
A stellar century against Sri Lanka at Adelaide in the T20I series kicked-off his home summer, which also saw the serial match-winner registering his Test best score of 335 against Pakistan. From then, there was no stopping Warner.
“I’m taken aback by this It’s been quite challenging. It’s hard to put a finger on where I should start. But as I said before, I want to thank Cricket Australia for that opportunity. The work that you guys did, I think was absolutely fantastic and I thank you again for that. To come back and have a summer like that and just contribute, it really put a smile on my face and I hope it did for you guys as well,” said Warner, choking on his voice.
Not all was merry for the 33-year-old at the beginning of the Test schedule, as a Stuart Broad-led English bowling charge dismantled his time at the crease in the Ashes, with Warner only managing a paltry 95 runs in 10 innings. Australia retained the coveted Ashes, courtesy of splendid game-management and captaincy from Tim Paine, immortal batting from the likes of Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne and some well-drilled bowling.
And one of the stalwarts with the ball, as he has been since returning from recurring injuries, was Pat Cummins. The fast bowler finished with 185 votes as to Smith’s 193 and Warner’s 194, but not much can be taken away from him – a truly deserving candidate for the Allan Border medal, for the second year running.
Pat Cummins was consistent throughout the year across formats
The consideration period for Australian cricket’s most heralded individual prize was from January 9, 2019 to January 8, 2020. While Warner and Smith stockpiled 1815 and 1553 runs during the same time frame, respectively, Cummins scalped 63 Test wickets, 31 ODI wickets and nine T20I wickets – tallying up to over 100 international wickets in just under 365 days. These are some numbers, but, there’s far more to the speedster’s evolution in the last 12 months.
Pat Cummins, who endured his breakthrough season in 2018 across formats and subsequently snared the Allan Border medal, in fact, bettered that record in 2019. The 26-year-old bowled more overs in Test cricket – 314.1 to 440, chipped in with a significant increase of maiden overs – 65 to 119, took many more wickets – 44 to 59 at a better economy rate – 2.7 to 2.8.
He was arguably Australia’s best bowler in the Ashes, as well as in the home summer against the likes of Sri Lanka and Pakistan. All of that, without any considerable rest. Smith and Warner only returned to the international scheme of things at the end of March, but Cummins has been there, throughout.
That work ethic translated into game-changing displays with the new ball and at the death even in the shorter formats. The fast bowler enjoyed his best calendar year in terms of ODI appearances and wickets – 31 of them at a stunning average of 21.61. Not to mention, in no other phase has Cummins’ economy rate been better, standing, in 2019, at just 4.73. He can not just produce magic with the new ball, but also keep it tight, consistent and rigid for the batsmen, who are often made to buy their runs against the Aussie.
Due credit to Warner and Smith for their otherworldly regularity with the bat. But that regularity too, has a magnitude. The batting sensations at the top of the order amassed runs at praiseworthy averages of 69.81 (Warner) and 62.12 (Smith), but it’s safe to say they weren’t consistent throughout the period.
Warner scored a solitary half-century in the Ashes, but literally on every other occasion, he headed for an early shower. Smith, although plotted at number 4 and not 3 in the World Cup, failed to stand up for his side when called upon at times. Going by his lofty standards, the run machine tallied 379 runs with four half-centuries and no match-winning contribution.
However, Cummins constantly ran the charge for the Aussies alongside Mitchell Starc in England, adding 14 wickets to his credit. A spectacular 29 wickets in the Ashes at 19.62 speak for themselves, alongside commendable series performances against Sri Lanka and New Zealand. Therefore, one may claim the pacer’s regularity was larger than Smith’s and Warner’s.
Pat Cummins defied all the odds and shortcomings usually encountered by fast bowlers, becoming the team’s go-to option more often than not. His emblem of constancy makes one wonder why he didn’t bow down to receive the medal for a second year running.