Cummins hopeful Test team will stay together in push for more glory

Australia
Pat Cummins is confident Australia can manage any turnover in personnel that comes over the next few years. He is hopeful that the majority of his Test side in particular can stay together while he is captain, with back-to-back home summers against India and England to come.
While the retirement of David Warner at the end of last summer marked the start of a changing of the guard, there is not yet expected to be bulk retirements in Test cricket. Australia were also given a window into a more uncertain future when Nathan Lyon missed three of last year’s Ashes Tests through injury, although he has since said he is targeting the 2027 England series.

“It’s something we definitely think about,” Cummins told ESPNcricinfo ahead of the release of The Test – Season 3 on Prime Video on Friday. “Think we are lucky in that everyone has gone a couple of years longer than we’d have first hoped. Hopefully it’s the same with Nath.

“The job is to try and ensure he does get those four or five years. We try and do everything we can to get him right for those Test matches. At his age, it all comes down to his body really. That will be his biggest barrier so [it will be about] as much as we can help him and he can help himself, similar to what Jimmy Anderson did.”

Given the age of the Test side – only Marnus Labuschagne and Cameron Green were under 30 in the last match against New Zealand – the challenge will be ensuring against a mass exit, particularly among the bowlers. With ODI and T20I sides tended to be built around the World Cup cycles, there is likely to be the start of transition after the upcoming T20 World Cup. Then there could also be a similar change in the ODI side after next year’s Champions Trophy.

“In more recent years, it’s one of the benefits of white-ball cricket that we have so many guys who play all three formats [that] they are going to have rest at some points,” Cummins said. “In white-ball cricket, we’ve seen the emergence of younger guys. So come big tournaments or Test matches, they’ve already had some exposure, and hopefully it makes the transition a bit more seamless.”

Last year was one of considerable success for Australia with the World Test Championship (WTC) title, retention of the Ashes and the ODI World Cup triumph, of which The Test chronicles the first two of those. At the end, though, there is the sense of a missed opportunity having been unable to win the Ashes series in England despite being 2-0 up, with a number of members of that side unlikely to return in 2027.

In the documentary, it is clear Australia were chastened by what happened at Old Trafford, where Zak Crawley led England’s charge, even though the rain enabled them to retain the Ashes: “Yeah, that was tough,” Cummins said. But reflecting back, he picked out the game before at Headingley, which England edged by three wickets, where he would have liked his chance again.

“Think maybe Headingley was one that got away from us,” he said. “Manchester we were totally outplayed, nothing went our way, but think Leeds we had our opportunities. Felt like [it was] one or two partnerships that they had, [and] maybe if we’d got some earlier wickets, particularly to the tail, you wish you had another crack at [that].

“[I] know we bowled a few bouncers which probably didn’t work out… in that moment you think that’s your best way to take wickets as cheap as possible, and it worked at Lord’s the week before, but didn’t work out [at Headingley].”
While Cummins has not put a specific timeframe on how long he will remain captain, he has previously said it won’t be a long stint. Head coach Andrew McDonald has indicated he will likely do the job for four years, so it is possible that the pairing which is forging a hugely successful era has reached its midway point.

Australia are well-placed to qualify for next year’s WTC final – although dropped what could be crucial points at home against West Indies in January – with next summer’s five-match India series likely to be vital, before away trips to Sri Lanka and the West Indies complete the current cycle.

“I’d love if the second half was as successful as the first half,” Cummins said of the current WTC cycle. “Most things have gone to plan for now. Think you are going to get a natural churn rate with some of our more senior guys. Hopefully they hang around for a while and they can manage their bodies until we are done. That makes the job for Andrew and myself a lot easier, but we’ll see.

“I’ve been pretty open to say I don’t think I’ll do this forever. Feel really well-placed at the moment. Feel like we are in a really good spot, so it’s certainly not imminent.”

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