Long before he became Australia’s mean pace machine, a 13-year-old Pat Cummins was the bowler to watch out for in New South Wales, once troubling a fellow teenager to such an extent that the batsman’s mother was forced to intervene.
Growing up in the Blue Mountains, Cummins gave an early account of his prodigious talent – by 15 he was said to be already clocking 120 kmph, and by 17, he had bagged a Sheffield Shield call-up for New South Wales.
Currently the No.1 ranked Test bowler, and the most expensive overseas player in the history of the IPL, Cummins recalled an incident from his underage cricket days to kkr.in, when he became a serial tormentor for an unlucky opposing player while playing for Penrith.
Bowl a ripper
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) January 6, 2020
“It happened a couple of times,” Cummins recalled. “I still remember this guy vividly because I would bowl to him once or twice a year but I would feel like hitting him on the thigh or the hip bone or the leg every single time. I didn’t mean to but every year I would actually hit him and he would be on the ground rolling in pain.
“One year his mom just came up and said, ‘please, please take it easy! You hit him every year!’ and all I could say was, ‘Of course, I will take it easy’.”
The mother’s appeal did little to deter Cummins from going back to his run-up and thundering in for another fiery spell.
“But as soon as I got the ball, there was no chance that I was going to bowl any slower.”
Despite all the promise, Cummins said his fast ascent to the top came as a surprise. He was just 18 years old when he made his Test debut against South Africa, and he claimed 6-79 and struck the winning runs in a thrilling two-wicket victory to pick up the Player of the Match award.
“A couple of weeks after I was done with my final exams, I was suddenly seen playing for New South Wales on TV and all my friends were surprised because they didn’t know that I played serious cricket,” he said. “Honestly, I didn’t know either! Everything happened so quickly. In my school life, I didn’t even consider playing cricket professionally because I didn’t even know anyone who plays cricket professionally. I was just a normal school student.
“Everything happened so quickly that before I knew anything, I was lining up with Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and playing a Test match a few months later. So, it was an incredible experience that happened so quickly and I find it to be a rare thing. But I absolutely loved it!”