March 14, 2017 / 12:25 AM / 5 months ago

Question mark over test fitness of 'freak' Cummins

Cricket - England v Australia - Fourth Royal London One Day International - Headingley - 11/9/15 Australia's Pat Cummins appeals and dismisses England's Alex Hales Action Images via Reuters / Philip Brown Livepic

SYDNEY (Reuters) - A recall for one-test paceman Pat Cummins has been a long time coming but New South Wales captain Moises Henriques believes it still might be too soon for the bowler he considers a "freak of nature".

Cummins may have only played one test but his was a pretty impressive performance, taking 6-79 in the second innings to lead Australia to a two-wicket victory over South Africa at Wanderers in November 2011.

After more than five years of injury setbacks preventing his talent from blooming in the test arena, the 23-year-old was called up to replace the injured Mitchell Starc in the squad for the last two matches in the series in India.

A man-of-the-match performance on his return to first class cricket for the first time in six years last week was enough for selectors to give him the call, but his New South Wales captain was not so sure.

"I think Pat is a very special bowler, so in terms of skill-wise and if you want someone to play cricket for Australia, I think Pat Cummins is your man," Henriques told reporters on Monday.

"But whether he's ready physically on the back of one Shield game, that's a completely different kettle of fish.

"There's a number of different factors when it comes into selecting guys to play for Australia in those sorts of conditions."

Portuguese-born all-rounder Henriques made his test debut against India in Chennai in 2013 and all four of his matches for his country were played on the continent.

Perhaps a little piqued after the Australian selectors overlooked his own claims to call uncapped Marcus Stoinis into the squad as a replacement for the injured Mitchell Marsh last week, Henriques questioned their call on Cummins.

"It was only one Shield game earlier that he got ruled out and apparently he wasn't ready to play Shield cricket for NSW," he said.

"Now on the back of one Shield game he's ready to play a test series in India, that's their call.

"Skill-wise, can he bowl at that level? 100 per cent he can. He's a freak of nature."

Former test paceman Geoff Lawson, a bowling coach at New South Wales, was equally bemused at the decision to call up Cummins after five years of Cricket Australia protecting the bowler.

"They've already broken Pat once last year by bringing him back too early," Lawson told Fox Sports TV.

"This is his third comeback from these stress fractures and they've picked him against the plan which has been intricately devised by a number of people, both at Cricket NSW and Cricket Australia.

"The plan was not for him to be playing in this test series -- it was for him to be playing Sheffield Shield cricket. From that point of view it's Cricket Australia going against its own plans -- we're just hoping it turns out well."

The series is level at 1-1 with the penultimate test starting in Ranchi on Thursday.

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Ian Ransom

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