RANCHI, India, March 18 (Reuters) - Pat Cummins exceeded expectations in his first test match in more than five years and the speedster will pose a sweet selection headache for Australia, bowling coach David Saker said on Saturday.
Long touted as a future leader of the pace attack, Cummins made a stunning seven-wicket debut in South Africa as an 18-year-old in 2011 but has since been beset by injuries.
After a fractured foot ended spearhead Mitchell Starc’s India tour, the selectors took a gamble of sorts by plucking Cummins out of domestic cricket and planting him into the team for the third test against India.
The right-arm pacer grabbed the opportunity with both hands, breathing fire on a placid track and claiming four wickets to help restrict India to 360-6 in reply to Australia’s first-innings total of 451.
“I thought last night he bowled particularly well but today he backed that up and to produce some of the balls he produced to get wickets is pretty exciting,” Saker told reporters at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium.
”Hats off to the selectors to go with him.
“Ball speed in India is a big thing because the wickets don’t generate any pace. But he was way higher than the expectations we had. We know what talent he is but it’s so pleasing to see him go so well.”
Cummings oozed hostility with the second new ball on Saturday, dismissing India captain Virat Kohli and the dependable Ajinkya Rahane while sending back Ravichandran Ashwin with a sharply rising delivery.
With the born-again Cummins joining Starc and Josh Hazlewood in the mix and James Pattinson waiting in the wings, Saker said Australia now had an embarrassment of pace riches.
“It will be a bit of a headache for the selectors,” Saker said.
”To be strong in world cricket and especially the Australian team, you need a good crop of fast bowlers and we’ve got that at the moment but we’ve had a lot of problems getting them on the park.
”There are still other back-up bowlers. Jackson Bird is here, he does a fantastic job when he’s called upon. Peter Siddle’s been outstanding for long periods of time. (Uncapped) Chadd Sayers again, probably one of the (most) unlucky fast bowlers in Australian cricket.
“We’ve got a good crop so that’s exciting for me and the Australian cricket team.” (Editing by Clare Fallon)