Notwithstanding his role in the wake of the “Perth Test inferno”, Pat Cummins has been charged with bringing the Australian team back from its most catastrophic cricketing crisis.
Cummins, 20, who has missed almost two years of cricket while battling bouts of illness and injury, underwent a procedure on his bowling arm on Wednesday and will be sidelined for up to eight weeks.
The opening Test of Australia’s tour of South Africa was lost when Cummins called his brother Jackson to his room after tea on day three.
He instructed his younger brother to get a lighter and then he began smoking what Jackson Cummins said was “a few” cigarettes while talking to a young Australian tour support staffer who was sitting across the table.
Cricket Australia’s new chairman Rod Marsh and chairman-elect David Peever. Photograph: Screenshot
The rest is history and the two appeared to be reprimanded by the second ODI in Port Elizabeth where the match referee stood by the decision not to throw the match out.
But the stand-off was for nothing, as the tour captain, Steve Smith, who ordered the team selection, was suspended for a year by Cricket Australia for having a lie-detector test undertaken while stating publicly that he had not conducted an under-age sexual encounter, was in the crosshairs.
Both are potentially in jeopardy of their Australian jobs when David Peever takes over as chairman from David Peever at next week’s AGM.
Further down the order, even the coach, Darren Lehmann, is facing questions after it was revealed the battery of lie detectors were actually bought for his wife to use to ensure he did not bat when the ball was in the air.
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Peever, who captained Australia in 1992 and was a 12th man during Glenn McGrath’s world-record haul against India that year, ruled out applying for the role he takes over from David Peever.
McGrath took cricket’s famous “dot, dot, dot” out of the golden age of wicketkeeping, but DeZande, whose game was destroyed by a negligent Australian after a line in the sand confrontation while playing for South Africa against South Australia in 2009, would like to apply.
Another candidate could be Andy Bichel, the original speed gun who made statistical gains in the injury-ravaged period of 2004 to 2006, after which Australia’s fast bowlers appear to have forgotten how to bowl.
The Australian Test team has reached a testing time. It’s been continually shattered by on-field failure over the last year-and-a-half with injuries and a loss of focus leading to three Ashes defeats and now the imbroglio that broke out in Perth.
The performance of this series against South Africa will either bring more success than failure and more income for the game, but it will also force the focus back to how the Australian cricketers are managed.
Australia are due to play seven Tests in a row against New Zealand and Pakistan in a series that runs to Christmas and there is no doubt that although this year’s Ashes was a triumph, there is still hard work to be done.