AUSTRALIA is likely to regret pushing Patrick Cummins into Test cricket before he has had a chance to play at least one season of matches in the Sheffield Shield to test out his body.
That Australia is not good at monitoring its players is evident from Mitchell Starc’s breaking down in India. Starc was ruled out of the India series after two Tests, with a stress fracture in his right foot.
As the cricket website espncricinfo has detailed, Starc is no stranger to injuries: he has been suffering from a spate of them right from December 2012.
If the Australian team doctors and physiotherapist could not monitor him enough to prevent his breaking down in what is billed as a series that is even more important than the Ashes, then what hope for Cummins?
Cummins made a spectacular debut in South Africa in 2011, but thereafter he has been hit by injuries one after the other. He made a good showing in the recent Big Bash League, but one has to bowl just four overs per game in that league.
He also played in the one-dayers against Pakistan, but again that is a matter of bowling a maximum of 10 overs.
And one must bear in mind that Cummins’ outings in T20 and ODIs have both been on Australian pitches which are firm and provide good support for fast bowlers as they pound their way up to the crease.
Indian pitches are a different kettle of fish. The soil is loose, and additionally the curators are dishing up spinning surfaces that will help the home team. Nothing wrong with that, every country does it.
But what needs to be noted is that loose soil does not give a fast bowler a good grip as he storms up to the crease. Sawdust does not help much either unless there is a firm foundation.
Cummins has looked good for some time now. But pitching him into the cauldron that is the Australia-India series, especially at this stage, does not seem to be a very sensible thing to do.
Cricket Australia may well like to retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy but should it take a risk with Cummins who is an excellent long-term prospect?
Fingers crossed that one of the faster of today’s bowlers gets through the two remaining Tests in India without anything going wrong. But one has serious doubts on that score.