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Catching them young


In spite of their ignominious 2nd innings display at Cape Town, this tour would give Australia’s confidence a major boost. If the first Test brought to light the fragility of this side under pressure, the second showed they are about to turn the corner. Together with the ODI series win, the 1-1 result means a largely happy trip for Australia. They showed character and self-belief in their pursuit of the highest-ever successful run-chase at Johannesburg.

A lion’s share of the credit for that must go to the debutant Pat Cummins. He wasted no time in living up to Ian Chappell’s lofty praise and duly bagged a six-wicket haul when Australia needed it most in the series. Such was the promise he held out in just his first Test that Michael Clarke more or less designated him as the spearhead of an otherwise struggling attack. With Shane Watson unable to bowl owing to injury and Mitchell Johnson being, well, Mitchell Johnson, Cummins rose to the challenge and sent down more or less as many overs as his more seasoned pace bowling partners Johnson and Peter Siddle. More importantly, he negated the threat of Jacques Kallis with a brute of a delivery and later induced de Villiers for a wild fishing expedition on the offside.

Cummins is just a shade over 18 years and bowls at a speed of more than 145 km/hr on consistent basis, Cummins’ strength is not just his speed but he is also accurate. His biggest weapon is that he can swing the ball at such a speed which makes him even more deadly, Cummins certainly is a find for the resurgent Australian team which is looking to regain their lost dominance in world cricket. Australian all-rounder Shane Watson praised teenage pacer Pat Cummins, calling him one of the most ‘intelligent and impressive young’ players he has seen in a decade.

Usman Khawaja is another great asset for the Australian team. He has shown great maturity as a middle order batsman & has impressed one & all so far in his short career, He has a good technique & a wide range of shots. The way he battled it out with the likes of Dale Steyn show that the lad has got a very bright future ahead of him especially with the legends like Ponting struggling for runs, Usman adds solidity to their middle order. Cummins showed he can shore up the floundering lower order too. He also struck an unbeaten 13 in the tense chase and hit the winning runs for the team. If Khawaja went some distance towards securing a middle-order slot in the near future, Cummins lent badly needed teeth to the bowling attack and that probably hurt the brittle South African middle-order more than anything. Australia must be careful not to rush Cummins into Test match cricket & over bowl him. They must take care of this youngster & nurture him to get the best out of him.

Australia will need a few more of the likes of Cummins as well as Khawaja before their very sight once again scares opposition into submission. But they have now shown they won’t turn into meek pushovers anytime soon and, if anything, they are already getting better again. Bad news for their rivals and good news for cricket lovers.

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