Cummins was announced as a replacement for Starc after the left-armer was ruled out of the remaining two Tests with a fractured foot. Any doubts about Cummins’ form or fitness with the red ball were cast aside this week when he starred in his Sheffield Shield return six years in the making, claiming 8-104 in NSW’s eight-wicket thumping of South Australia.
While Jackson Bird is the reserve fast bowler in the 16man touring party, Cummins’ express pace could see him edge ahead of the Tasmanian and be a straight swap for Starc, according to vice-captain David Warner.
“We know he’s got a lot of pace which he will definitely bring and that’s one thing we always talk about,” Warner said on Cummins’ call-up. “You always have to have someone who is a spearhead quick and that’s always been the Australian approach and we know he’s got that firepower. It’s been a long time (since his last Test) and he’s been working his backside off to get his body right for one and it was great to see him come back and play the Shield game the other day and bowl well.
We know with Patty as (Starc’s) replacement we’re going to have that firepower there if the selectors go that way,” the explosive batsman added. Further indication Cummins will fill the shoes of Starc in the starting XI came from newly-appointed National Selection Panel chairman Trevor Hohns. “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-thematch performance.”
If Cummins gets to play in Ranchi it would end 1,934 days in the Test wilderness, having not worn the Baggy Green since his only Test against South Africa in November 2011. In that time the 23-yearold has been plagued with back injuries which have restricted him to playing predominantly limited-overs cricket for Australia, NSW and the various T20 clubs he’s represented.