‘Incredible’: Cummins celebrates his first Ashes series as captain

Pat Cummins sat with a stunned smile after another rampant Australian victory.

Having steamrolled England in three days and nights, winning the fifth and final Test at Hobart’s Bellerive Oval to claim the series 4-0, it was like Australia’s recently minted Test captain was struggling to take it all in.

Cummins celebrates a wicket. Credit:Getty

“It’s incredible,” Cummins said after Australia’s 146-run victory on Sunday night before pausing to gather his thoughts. “An Ashes series is one that you have in your diary for a couple of years.

“They’re the big series you want to peak at. Being thrown the captaincy just beforehand as well, I couldn’t have predicted how the last six or seven weeks have gone. Everything has gone to plan. There are so many positives to take out of it.

“For this team to be part of Ashes history it’s been phenomenal.”

So phenomenal in fact that Cummins wants to take this success to the world, with Test tours of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India and England over the next 18 months.

Most of all, he wants Australia to be “brave”, like they were in Hobart after being sent in on a green pitch.

“I thought the way we played on day one, we were 3/12 and these are quite foreign conditions to what we’d normally expect in Australia, a green, seaming wicket,” Cummins said.

“I thought the way Marnus (Labuschagne), Trav Head, Cam Green took on the game was a really good template for any conditions that are really foreign that we might expect.

“We can be the type of team that are brave enough to take that positivity overseas if we need to. I think that puts us in a great place.

“I’m really excited about the upcoming Pakistan tour. We’ve played really well here in Australia. It’s now up to us to take that overseas.

“To be the best side in the world you have to win at home but, more importantly, you need to be successful overseas.

“That’s the challenge for this side. We haven’t played overseas a lot in the last couple of years.”

“This is just hopefully the beginning. I feel we’re all in a really good place. There are no imminent retirees, hopefully.”

Cummins was thrust into the captaincy close to the season after Tim Paine stepped down because of a sexting scandal, but it didn’t impact his standing as the world’s most highly ranked bowler.

Australia celebrate after winning the fifth Test.Credit:Getty Images

He finished the leading wicket taker in the series with 21 at an average of 18 after missing the second Test in Adelaide as a close COVID contact.

“That was probably my biggest worry accepting the role as captain,” Cummins said. “I’m in the team as a bowler, I want to make sure that’s protected and I’m able to perform as well as I’d like.

“With each game I felt better at managing that. I could really switch off, take off the captain’s hat and just be a bowler for my overs.

“Even little things around bowling changes and moving fields in between my overs, I felt like I got better at managing that as the series went on. That’s a hugely pleasing thing.

“That might be difficult in the heat, but I feel like it’s something I’m only going to get better at.”

Captain of the Australian cricket team was once described as the second most important role in the country after prime minister, but Cummins didn’t find it all-consuming.

“There’s more scrutiny but in terms of the actual role on the field and conversations around the change rooms it is manageable. It’s not a hell of a lot different to what I’d be having anyway as a bowler.

“I’ve just got to be across a little bit more. The role is big and important, but it’s probably not as all encompassing as I perhaps thought it might have been when I first took it on but then again I think the biggest challenges are going to be ahead.

“We’re lucky we live in an age where we’ve got incredible support staff around who take a lot of those stresses out of what a traditional captain might have had around strategy, man management, those types of things.”

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