The moment Patrick James Cummins, Australia’s future test captain, grabbed the ball and made his test debut at Johannesburg’s Wanderers Stadium, South African speed demon Morne Morkel noticed something about the 18-year-old that made him move forward in his seat.
The future test captain’s body language at the “bullring”, a notoriously tough venue for tournament teams, was striking.
“He was a different class,” Morkel says Herald, 10 years after Cummins’ first test drive in 2011. “There were many words on the street about him.
“Body language… it’s something you need. [It’s] 90 percent of international cricket. The way he did things that day was a clear sign that he was a special player. “
As a cricketer who made a career of turning fear into opponents, it was “not nice” to see a tearful fast from Australia do the same against his own teammates.
South Africa’s top order in that match may have been one of their greatest ever. Graeme Smith opened batting, Hashim Amla at first drop, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers in the middle order.
Morkel reveals how much Cummins rattled South Africa’s top order, en route to second innings of 6-79 before hitting a limit for the match-winning races.
“[I was] sees him run in and bowl really fast and really scare our top order, ”says Morkel. “Many of the boys went back and said, ‘who is this guy?’ The South African crowds did not seem to bother him too much. We talked to him afterwards and he was a guy who was turned on and determined for big things. “
overwhelmed? No, this was a child with a great future, whose ability to bowl consistently at 145 km / h until his young body gave in, at least people showed he belonged before a long injury break.
A leader by example.
Six years later, Cummins is home, in a cricket sense.
He plays for Penrith at Howell Oval, a stone’s throw from where the Panthers, his childhood rugby league team, play their home games.
Hundreds of spectators sit glued to the cricket. It is the last over of the 2017 final with limited overs in first class.
Hawkesbury needs five races. Penrith needs a wicket.
Already a star on the world stage, Cummins, who has just rejected three of Hawkesbury’s best batteries, need not be here. But he is. And he’s nervous.
“In big stadiums, there are a lot of people and you don’t really notice it,” Cummins told local reporters after the match. “But here it’s all your teammates [watching] and you know how much it means to everyone. It’s nerve-wracking. ”
Not since 2001-02 has Penrith won any kind of silverware, and Cummins, the local hero, has the ball in his hand. Within minutes, thanks to Cummins’ cunning skills, Penrith is back in the game.
A ball. Three to win. Two to tie.
Good luck writing a better finale.
A crescendo of clapping echoes around the oval as Cummins rushes in to bowl.
It is pushed out to a deep point and the batteries come back for two. The throw is not great – a half volley – but Cummins’ older brother and wicketkeeper Tim scoops it up, takes the bail and Penrith wins by one run.
Players from each class sprint onto the field to enjoy a moment with one of their own, an international star who will never forget where he comes from.
A Penrith junior who cut his teeth in Green Shield – Sydney’s under-16 competition – before working his way up from fourth to first class, Cummins is a beacon of hope for cricketers in the West.
He is also generous with what club president Paul Goldsmith explains.
“The boys ran out of alcohol and drank the fridge dry that night in the finale,” Goldsmith said. “Pat handed over his credit card to probably the only sober person there who bought quite a few hundred dollars [of alcohol] courtesy of Pat and probably some of his IPL money.
“In the sheds afterwards, Pat was just as happy as everyone else. He really cares about this club. Everyone ran onto the pitch and it showed how much it meant.
“He’s selfless and a Penrith boy at heart. It makes it real. It makes children’s dreams so achievable. They can pop into our pavilion and see Pat’s picture on the wall as a 15-year-old thin little boy playing Green. Shield. “
Penrith players will tell stories about the Cummins to their grandchildren.
Like the day as a 13-year-old, an opposing player’s mother asked Cummins to stop bowling so fast because he kept hitting her son. Or at 2 p.m., when a bail allegedly sailed over the fence after the young reindeer bowled someone.
“It gives a bit of an insight that he was a bit of a prodigy when it comes to fast bowling,” Goldsmith says.
A little-known fact is that the Cummins were dropped from the state’s under-15s Emerging Blues squad. Out of the all-important “system”, Cummins got the best out of a growth spurt before he really broke into the stage, especially when he got the chance to bowl at Australian Test captain Ricky Ponting in a net session.
But the Cummins really put their tongue into wagging for NSW at an under-17 tournament in Adelaide.
It was here that Cummins helped NSW win a Big Bash curtain raiser against South Australia in a super over.
Cummins’ pace was something to behold, at times bowling with his first drop standing outside the 30-yard circle. Queensland opener Ben McDermott, son of Australian great Craig McDermott, who played a handful of white balls, painted a picture of canceling Cummins.
“Facing him was downright scary,” McDermott wrote in a column for Athlete Voice. “Not only was he seriously fast, he swung them both ways and sent an occasional bouncer down. I could hardly see the ball. “
A year later, Cummins became captain of a future Australian team-mate Adam Zampa in the NSW under-19s team, which included childhood best mate Jordan Silk, as well as Sean Abbott and Gurinder Sandhu.
“A few weeks later, he played Big Bash and did well, bowling rockets,” Zampa says. “He’s an amazing guy, an absolute legend and an amazing leader.
“By being around him on the Australian team for the last few years, he has been a natural leader in particular. He is always in the players’ corners.
“The thing about him is that he rarely shows any emotion other than happiness or calm on the court. He’s never angry. I think he could have a really good influence on a lot of guys.”
Before a handful of NSW one-day appearances this year, Cummins’ only captain experience was in seven Green Shield appearances for Penrith in 2009, topping the team’s runs and wickets lists and making 136 not-outs against Mosman, who beat No. 5.
The beauty of Cummins is that cricket was another violin for his studio and friends. He was very good but never had Winx odds of playing test cricket, as his under-17s NSW captain Kurtis Patterson explained this week.
“I probably never imagined him as captain of the test team,” Patterson said. “I probably did not choose him to be as good as he is, but he is No. 1 in the world, and there is a reason for that.”
Blues teammate and former housemate Harry Conway has also spent many days chewing the fat with the Cummins about everything to do with cricket.
“He will be untouched as captain of the tough periods of Test cricket,” said Conway. “He’s such an optimistic player. It’s very much centered around how good he is personally.”
It is likely that no one has said a bad word about Cummins in any way. For a future test captain who has the task of winning the hearts and minds of a country, it is a good starting point.
“No matter who you are, he will take the time to find out your background and make an effort to connect people in a team environment,” Morkel says. “He’s very selfless and about the team. Those are the qualities of people we all like.
“He crosses all the boxes and can inspire the team to follow him.”