Pat Cummins: It really doesn’t bother us if the India Tests are fiery
Australia will be “ready for whatever is thrown” at them ahead of the opening Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, according to their captain Pat Cummins.
The lead-up to the series has been dominated by concerns over the pitches which will be used for the four-Test encounter, with sections of the Australian media accusing India of “pitch doctoring”. Cummins remained resolute in his team’s confidence to face any challenge that might come their way.
“We are just coming here really open-minded,” he told Star Sports. “Even the preparation, these four days we’ve practised really spinning wickets, practised flat wickets, pace bowling, a bit of everything. So we feel ready for whatever’s thrown at us.”
The rivalry between the two sides has been one of modern Test cricket’s most closely fought and one of it’s most fraught too, with few Tests passing without some sort of flashpoint. This was especially true in the most recent series in Australia, with Steve Smith coming under fire for shadow-batting on the wicket during India’s batting innings, and Tim Paine criticised for his behaviour during the dénouement of the Sydney Test. Cummins, Paine’s successor as captain, isn’t worried about this series being similar.
“The first couple of Test matches were pretty fiery,” Cummins said. “So, we’ll wait and see, it really doesn’t bother us. We’ve been really comfortable with how we’ve been playing the last 12 months. Hopefully much of the same is the way we go about it, no matter what’s thrown at us.”
India are the current holders of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a famous 2-1 victory in Australia in 2020/21 extending a run of three consecutive series wins. Cummins said he saw that series as something of a wake-up call.
“I think it also kind of showed us that we’re a bit off the mark,” said Cummins. “And we need to get better if we want to compete and be number one in the world.”
On a personal level, Cummins will be aiming to provide all that he can with the ball – he claimed 21 wickets in the last series in Australia. One of the major challenges to his side’s chances of regaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Cummins conceded, is Virat Kohli’s batting prowess. This is despite Kohli’s challenges over the last few years as a Test match batter, his last century in the format coming in 2019.
Comparing Kohli to Sachin Tendulkar, Cummins said: “If they’re batting the whole of India is watching.
“If you’re just a little bit off, they’re going to pounce – so, you’ve got to kind of really lock in and lock in early or else they’re off to a flyer, you know, they’re 20 of 20 balls.”
Since taking over the captaincy in 2021, Cummins has overseen a successful Test match period for his side, with a home Ashes 4-0 win and a 1-0 victory in Pakistan. Australia are also in prime position to qualify for the final of the World Test Championship, which will take place at The Oval in June.
On his approach to captaincy Cummins said: “Everyone knows their game so well and I think when you’ve got an experienced side as well, you can take quite an individualized approach. So you let David Warner at the top who might go about it so differently to a Steve Smith, but they’re just experts at their own field.”
Cummins will lead his side onto the field for the first time in India in Nagpur on February 9.