Pat Cummins has proven himself to be Australia’s ironman following a herculean effort with the ball in the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford.
The one-time injury-plagued quick, who is the only fast bowler in the Australian squad to play in all four Tests despite his involvement in the Cricket World Cup, reeled off a high quality 10-over spell for no reward on flat track either side of tea on Friday that showcased his transformation from brittle-boned teenage tearaway to a “machine” capable of pounding in all day.
On another cold day in Manchester that saw the morning session lost to rain, England closed day three on 5/200 in response to the tourists’ first innings total of 8/497 declared and need 98 more runs to avoid the follow-on.
Although it was Hazlewood (4/48) who broke the 141-run partnership between Rory Burns (81) and Joe Root (71), Cummins set the tone after England had dominated following lunch, hitting Mitchell Starc, who went for nearly four an over, out of the attack.
The 26-year-old deserved better figures than 0/22 from 10 overs and should have claimed the wicket of Root for 58 when he edged him through Tim Paine and David Warner at first slip.
Root and Burns batted well for the hosts, who were skittled out for 67 in their previous first innings at Headingley, rebuilding from 2/25 after Hazlewood dismissed nightwatchman Craig Overton, with the ninth ball of the day. The pair batted manfully to survive with Root forced to receive medical treatment after a Cummins thunderbolt hit him on the inside of his right knee.
However, just when the pair thought they were about to get some respite, a refreshed Hazlewood came on to take 3/15 in 27 balls late in the day – including the wicket of Jason Roy for 22 in the penultimate over before bad light stopped play.
“Patty rarely bowls a bad spell to be honest he was fantastic there in the evening session,” Hazlewood said.
“He could have had a catch that went between the keeper and first slip and is always at the batsmen.
“Front foot, back foot, he just gets better every time he bowls. It’s good to have him in your team.
“He’s a machine, really.”
After making a stunning debut as a 19-year-old against South Africa in 2011, Cummins endured a series of injury setbacks that threatened to derail his career, something Hazlewood believes is very much a thing of the past.
Bowling a 10-over spell would have been unthinkable in his early days but Cummins has transformed himself into a durable commodity who has been a mainstay of the side for the best part of two years.
“He had all that bad luck with injury through his teens, early 20s, and then he’s come out the other side,” he said.
“He’s always been a great athlete, I guess it was just a matter of time before that body hardened up and his bones hardened up.
“As a power and strength athlete, he’s fantastic and he’s got great endurance as well.
“He’s pretty much the all-round package.”
Ian McCullough, AAP