Cricket

Pak vs Aus 2021-22 – Osman Samiuddin – Pat Cummins is golden

Pak vs Aus 2021-22 - Osman Samiuddin - Pat Cummins is golden

“To all the former players, I want to say this: just as you have always defended your friends, I defend mine.

Kind of like, if you think about it, a Pat Cummins wicket. No foam, no foam. No wasted energy. All very concise, very precise. The jewel of the message lies in its economy and its devastating finality.
Like this ball to Joe Root at Old Trafford in the Ashes 2019. You may be captain of England, the ball recognizes, and it may be the Ashes, he adds, but I am delivered by Patrick Cummins, he warns, and I’ll sell you an inswinger, he promises, and I’ll land a perfect length, it winks, then I straighten up and hit the top, it laughs, as that he casually drops this dead conversation.

Read the entire statement until you win. It’s a Pat Cummins spell. Pacy: It takes just under two and a half minutes to read it. Clearly states the basics: “I believe in respecting the sanctity of the locker room and proper process” is making sure to hit the top of the stump, ball after ball. Every once in a while something is added to make sure you pay attention: “Justin recognized that his style was intense. And he was”, is the one that beats both edges and needs to be replayed or re-read several times .

Then the chef’s kiss.

Another Root throwback comes to mind, Gabba’s at the 2017-18 Ashes. Cummins talked about this setup, how, on nine balls, he gradually pulls Root’s front foot with a line of fifth stump. He wants to drag him outside, then trap him in the leg before he goes down with a ducking one.

Cummins’ control stats are mind-boggling, and for most of those ten balls he hits that off-stump line impeccably. In between, he slips one back in, but Root lets him go. For the tenth ball, having gotten that front foot where he wants it, Cummins throws a sharp inswinger. He knows there are risks involved, as there is always the risk of him slipping harmlessly down the side of the leg or being cut for errands. It’s Cummins, though, and it’s perfect. The root falls duly across and is the front leg: finish as you want to install it. Cummins does it all the time in the field. So regularly, in fact, that his genius runs the risk of normalizing.

Like this inswinger, this statement also comes across as a risk, though it also, undeniably, feels like a risk. moment in modern Australian cricket.

On Friday, Cummins will become the first Australian to lead his team in a test on Pakistani soil in more than 23 years. It’s a moment too. There’s a lot to say about this absence, few compliments about Cricket Australia, but now is not the time. Now is the time to reflect on the greatness of this moment.

In some ways, this tour is similar to Australia’s tour of Pakistan in 1959-60, their first proper tour here (they had played a solitary Test in Karachi three years previously). At the time, this part of the world was considered neither a particularly attractive nor a particularly important destination. in 1956 it was a pit stop on the return of an Ashes series. But in 1959 Australia were touring the subcontinent during their own domestic season and although some players did not want to tour, the Australian board told them they would do better otherwise.
Because it was the first real visit and because it took place at the height of the Cold War, the captain, Richie Benaud, contacted the Australian Prime Minister and met with a senior diplomat to ensure that he knew what was going on before going out. . Pakistan had just been introduced to military dictatorship and the US president was due to visit during the tour (and although he ended up watching, he wasn’t there to watch cricket but to firm up a wartime ally cold). The tour required tricky navigation and even now, nearly seven years after Benaud’s death, more than 60 years after the tour, it’s easy to imagine how well he would have steered it, sharp on the pitch, sensitive and charming outside.
You’d think that 60 years later, geopolitical sensitivities wouldn’t be quite as high, but hey, maybe you haven’t taken the occasional doomscroll on a social media timeline yet. But Cummins has a lot to correct in Australian cricket, rather than worrying about the wider political balances. Repair the image of Australian cricket in Pakistan for one, or, like Benaud, start all over again. But it’s also a bit about straightening out Australian cricket’s pandemic-era retreat. It’s their first Pakistan tour in 23 yearsbut it’s also their first test tour everywhere other than England since 2019. So, in an as yet unspecified order, Cummins will be fast bowler, captain, leader and ambassador for the entire tour.

Australians have guessed this for a long time, but to the outside world he has recently emerged as the ideal man, a captain who will not only make sure he doesn’t say or do anything stupid, but a leader who could actively saying and doing the right things. .

A word of warning: we can never really know our public personas, no matter how much we claim to. We pretend to, drawing profiles from interviews to condense a lifetime into an hour, or through their autobiographies, or assigning traits to the back of their field acts. And in these times of division, we gladly reduce them to easy and binary caricatures.

This applies to all public figures, but is particularly relevant given the experiences of Australia’s last two Test captains, built as tough, versatile lads until they turned out to be – gasp! – just guys. We think we know them. Time and time again we learn that we don’t.

All we can know is that they must exude inner peace or tumult, unknowable urges or apathy, just as the rest of us humans do; their lives are propelled by the usual human motives and machinations, except they operate inside glass houses where everyone looks inside and is ready with stones.

In the case of Cummins, it seems doubly necessary to throw in the caveat of Sandpapergate and its implications for Australia’s attack that day. It still seems unresolved, at least as long as David Warner’s strong, unnerving and continued silence continues.

This, then, is presented with the greatest trepidation: that Cummins represents an unusually evolved leader for cricket at this time. Not only placed against the missteps of Tim Paine or Steve Smith, but most captains.

Because just like you could watch Cummins’ best deliveries, listen his thoughts on racism (or read them here). He doesn’t engage in groupthink, ticking boxes here. There’s an active self-education at play, as well as an understanding of how it relates to historical issues at home – to do with Australia’s treatment of its indigenous population.
Where to read his column on the climate crisis. This awareness also comes from her personal experience, stimulated by the birth of her first child. He wants to leave the world in a better place for the people who come after him: it’s not so much a pose as basic mannerisms.

It’s tempting to see this statement about Langer as the end point not just of his coaching tenure, but of this entire era; a final point, that is between the most golden generation in Australia and all the following ones, which, by definition, cannot be so golden; they are your friends, they are mine.

It’s more complicated than that, of course, and the eras can never be so clearly delineated. But if one of the consequences of that is that a more enlightened Australian team emerges, one less self-righteous, one less agitated about that miserable ‘line’ and the ethos around it, to which its predecessors were so hooked up, so that’s definitely a good thing.

But a more immediate consequence is that a good deal depends on this series, or any other that Cummins will be directing for some time. One loss here and you can imagine some of those former cricketers waiting to wade in. Not far behind them, a larger commentary too. Because the issues Cummins has chosen to speak out on are so polarizing, especially in Australia, that he’s already been criticized in some quarters as a woke poster boy leading a jolly crew of snowflakes. snow. He should just focus on cricket, this silly thought goes, and not, you know, have thoughts about the planet he inhabits or the inhabiting people around him.

On such issues, we see time and time again that the backlash can be intense and unpredictable. What’s the precarious thing about Cummins on this trip. For a man whose only career shortcomings so far have been the annual mustache he grows (and for the good cause of Movember at that), entering Pakistan represents uncertain ground not only literally, but figuratively.

Osman Samiuddin is an editor at ESPNcricinfo