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INTERVIEW

Pat Cummins

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Freak
DECEMBER 2011

Speed

HIS IS about the speed of Pat Cummins. The speed of his run-up. The speed of the small red sphere emerging from his right hand. The speed with which hes ready, willing and able to knock a batsmans head clean off. Blood on the pitch! The speed of his ascension into Australias limited-overs colours. The speed with which the most exciting teenager in Australian cricket could become Australias young Test tyro this summer or, given the injury curse afflicting the pacemen of Generation Why Me, end up in the nearest hospital ward. In every conceivable way, Pat Cummins is all about speed. Blinding, staggering, mind-blowing speed. Running in fast, bowling fast, you might see a bit of fear in the batsmans eyes nothing better, Cummins says. Imagine it. Imagine being quick. Imagine the power. Cummins imagines being Shaun Tait the night he clocked 160.7kph at the MCG. He imagines being Brett Lee and Shoaib Akhtar at full throttle. Its thrilling enough for people watching the uber-quicks. Imagine being the turbo-charged bloke himself. Cummins has been clocked at 151kph for NSW seriously swift and hes only just getting started. Embarking on an off-field regimen of strength and conditioning work will reveal his full physical potential in

the not-too-distant future. The bloke is still a teenager. Give him a couple more years, a few more Weet-Bix, and Cummins will be catapulted into the realm of lightning fast. If he isnt there already. So, come on, whats it like? Whats it like to be a real quick when you click? Describe the power. Its kind of surreal when you have those spells and youre just . . . on, Cummins says. Youve got the new ball, its coming out great, its swinging and bouncing around. Everything is working for you, the wind is behind your back, theres some life in the pitch, the other blokes in your team are revving you up. It feels effortless. You feel like you can bowl forever, like youre not going to bowl a bad ball. Just setting off from the top of your run, even that can feel good, like youve got all this momentum before you even get started. I love it. I loved watching Shoaib Akhtar running in and trying to break the speed record. I was watching in my lounge room when Shaun Tait went 160, 161. I was out of my seat, it was that exciting. I love watching it, I love trying to do it. I always have. I was pretty lucky in that I could do it from, well, as long ago as I can remember. We all go through that stage as kids when we bat, bowl, have a go at being the keeper. I just wanted to bowl fast.

In one year Pat Cummins has raced from school studies to the Australian squad. Will Swanton meets a kid with old time values when it comes to inflicting pain on batsmen
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Cummins in action for the Blues in both Twenty20 and Sheffield Shield formats

Its not like you want to hurt someone badly. But batsmen have so much protection, that hardly happens. Theyre wearing a helmet. If you hit it, you might ask if theyre alright but inside youre thinking, you beauty, got him
Cummins has a way to go. If hes a song, theres a great chorus in place, but the final version is still being nutted out. Taits 161.1kph thunderbolt, against England at Lords last year, is the fastest ever by an Australian. The leap from 150kph to 160kph is insurmountable for most bowlers. It matters little, because even high-140s is sufficiently hot to trot. Cummins, though, isnt most quicks. He cannot contain the glee in his voice when hes recollecting the night two summers ago when Tait let rip in a T20 match against Pakistan at the MCG: That was unbelievable, incredible to watch. I couldnt get enough of that, he says. You could hear all the wild cheering at the ground, I was cheering at home. Hadds (keeper Brad Haddin) told me he was standing so far back he was outside the 30-metre circle. Thats incredible. The look on Hadds face when he took those balls off Tait, the looks on everyones faces in the crowd, the other players, how pumped up the commentators were, anyone would want a spell like that in their career.
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DECEMBER 2011

you want to hurt someone badly, Cummins says. But batsmen these days have so much protection, that hardly happens anyway. Theyre wearing a helmet. If you hit it, yeah, you might ask if theyre alright but inside youre thinking, you beauty, got him. Theres not much feeling sorry for them. I normally go down and ask if theyre OK but I want them to know I dont really care if they are or not. Tremendous opportunities await Cummins. Guarantees are few. This time last year, two of his NSW stablemates, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, made expedited entrances into Australias limited-overs teams, only for injuries to stop both in their tracks. Cummins ponders how he can grab a better fate. Hes already had what he calls minor stress fractures of the back. Theyre a worry. He will do all the fitness programs required. He will manage his workload, on the recommendations of Cricket Australia, as best he can. On top of all that, though, he has one last plan of attack. Ill cross my fingers, he says. You need luck. You can do all the right things and still break down. Look what happened to Josh and Mitch. They didnt do anything wrong, it just happened. Thats the nature of fast bowling. Ill do everything Im told to do, but I think theres an element of luck involved. Thats why Ill be crossing my fingers. And hoping his international career doesnt die at the speed of its birth. The blinding, staggering, mind-blowing speed of its birth.

Knocking over Jacques Kallis was a fine way to get a first ODI wicket

Cummins: Life in the fast lane


IT WAS only last year that Pat Cummins was still a school kid in Penrith, playing cricket on weekends, watching the Australian team on TV, studying for his HSC. In September 2010, the Glenbrook-Blaxland junior made his first-grade debut for Penrith. His path since then proves that if you perform in Australian cricket, you will go places. In January 2011, NSW selectors gambled on him in the Big Bash. He became the revelation of the tournament, taking a chart-topping 11 wickets at 14.09. His economy rate was terrific: just a tick over six runs per over. He was fast. He could swing it. He was miserly. It was everything the national selectors wanted. In February, he was chosen for his first one-day game for NSW. In March, he debuted in the Sheffield Shield. Every time he played, he performed, so the promotions kept coming. In June, he received a Cricket Australia contract. And now the national call-up. It cannot have happened so quickly, he says. But I guess it has. Im still a bit shocked by it all, to be honest, but Im not complaining. Cummins was the youngest player to be awarded a Cricket Australia deal since the contract system was introduced in 1998 when he was all of five years of age. A back complaint wiped him out of the Australia A tour to Zimbabwe, and any possibility of him making the top-tier Australian teams trek to Sri Lanka this year, but he was picked in Australias T20 and ODI sides to tour South Africa. Beats doing homework. Asked if he dominated junior cricket, taking eight, nine and 10-wicket hauls every Saturday morning, he replies: No, not at all. Six-for is the best Ive had in any game in my life.

The 161.2kph question: can Cummins be that fast? The 161.3kph question: Does he aspire to be? Well, I definitely know I can get faster than I am now. This is really only my first year of fulltime cricket, working in the gym, running, working on my strength and fitness, all that stuff. I cant wait to see how all that pays off. Im going to be the strongest Ive ever been and thatll definitely help in bowling fast, for longer. And itll help with the injury-prevention side of things. I can only get better than I am, hopefully, but its not like the aim in your career is to get to a certain pace. Youre in teams to take wickets, youve got to get that balance. You dont want to take 0-200 but say, Yeah, I was quick, though! I loved watching Glenn McGrath as much as Brett and Shoaib and those guys. He wasnt as fast but he was so successful, so skilful. It doesnt matter how fast you are. Youve got to get wickets. Thats terrific. Wickets come highly recommended. But when you have the ability to deliver a little chin music, when digging one in

short will have a batsman running for the hills and the crowd baying for blood, you may as well. Yes, yes, definitely, Cummins says like the mere thought gets the adrenaline pumping. You can tell when a batsman doesnt feel too comfortable. Thats such a great feeling for a quick, you feed off it. But the higher up the levels you go, the harder it is to tell. They hide it better or maybe they just dont feel the fear at all, I dont know. Theyre using everything they have to score runs, so youve got to use everything you can to get them out. Youve got to give them a hard time if you can. Thats a buzz. Youre bowling quick enough, you hit a bloke on the back of his helmet because he hasnt seen it coming, you see that look on his face I dont mind that at all. Its motivates you to bowl faster and faster. We all know the drill. When a short balls cracks a batsman on the helmet, the normal routine is for the hairy-chested bowler to offer a half-baked apology for inflicting physical harm. Lets get real. The apology is entirely insincere. Its not like
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DECEMBER 2011

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