Pakistan vs Australia 2022 – Pat Cummins has an eye on reverse swing in next stage of captaincy


He is ready to be “creative” and “brave” depending on what conditions emerge

Pat Cummins is prepared for a different tempo of Test cricket on the tour of Pakistan as his captaincy is given its first challenge overseas and is eyeing reverse swing as a key element with the ball.

A combination of England’s weak batting, some well-grassed pitches and Australia’s bowling strength led to some brief stints in the field during the recent Ashes – five times England were bowled out in under 70 overs.

While ensuring the bowlers were rarely overworked it also meant that as captain Cummins did not often have to depart from the basics, although he did come in for some criticism for his declaration in Sydney when England then survived nine down on the final day.

It remains to be seen what the pitches will be like for the three Tests next month. Since the format returned to Pakistan in 2019 the longest innings has been 131 overs (when Pakistan scored 555 for 3 at more than four an over against Sri Lanka) and five times teams have been bowled out in under 70 overs, but Cummins is excited by the thought of having his skills tested.

“It throws up a different challenge to the cricket we’ve grown up used to playing in Australia,” he said. “There’s probably going to be times where I’ll have to be more creative, try a few different things, be brave, so I’m excited for that challenge.

“We don’t really know what to expect over there. Subcontinent Tests can be played quickly or slowly, but think for a lot of this group, we haven’t played a lot of cricket overseas, so if we want to be No. 1 in the world we have to have a really good showing on these subcontinent tours.”

Cummins had noted the pace numbers of the recent Tests played in Pakistan and Australia would certainly feel well-placed in conditions that aided the quicks. There has been a focus on reverse swing during the pre-tour camp in Melbourne with the nature of the Ashes series meaning it was rarely a major factor.

“It’s made us not to expect to have a just a really spin-friendly subcontinent conditions that perhaps we’ve experienced in past Indian or Sri Lanka tours,” he said. “Seems like the pace bowlers have done quite well and they’ve got a really strong pace-bowling line-up. We feel like squad we have covers all areas and we are really comfortable if we need extra spinners or extra pace bowlers.”

“A lot of time the ball reverse swings so we didn’t really experience it this summer with grassy wickets, short games, whereas over there it can be a real weapon so trying to upskill that. We haven’t bowled a lot of reverse swing in the last year or so but it’s a huge factor going into the subcontinent.”

The leadership pairing with Steven Smith also shapes as a vital part of Australia’s make-up for the series with Smith’s previous subcontinent experience both as a batter and captain something Cummins will lean on. Just two matches into their new roles during the Ashes, Smith was rushed into the captaincy when Cummins was ruled out of Adelaide as a Covid-19 close contact.

“There’s lots of information that I’ll be trying to sift through and get help from,” Cummins said. “Feel lucky to have someone like Smithy who has not only captained in India but also played quite a bit on the subcontinent.”

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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