Pat Cummins celebrates another wicket.
Pat Cummins celebrates another wicket.

Ironman Cummins outlasts and outclasses the field

IF ever any further proof was needed that Pat Cummins' transformation from Australian cricket's broken man to its ironman it materialised at the Oval on Sunday.

The man brought in to protect Cummins' from a back-breaking workload, Mitchell Marsh, stood at the top of his mark and prepared to charge in for a 16th over.

Marsh had done his job of soaking up an admirable amount of the work, which in the end was crucial as offspinner Nathan Lyon contributed just four overs as he nurses a split to a callus on his spinning finger.


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But as he wound up for another six balls, it was Marsh's body which started to fail him. He twice pulled out of his run-up before sending down another tricky outswinger to Jack Leach - and immediately grabbed at his right hamstring, which had begun to cramp up.

And as Marsh gingerly made his way off the field, it was Cummins, Australia's man for all occasions, who walked up to umpire Marais Erasmus and handed over his baggy green.

The 26-year-old has sent down more deliveries than anyone outside of Lyon this series, a tireless performance which continued for a 20th over as he took the ball from Marsh.

Marsh took the day-one plaudits in London, but it was again Cummins who deserved the accolades.

Cummins has maintained his pace and accuracy throughout punishing spells Test after Test.
Cummins has maintained his pace and accuracy throughout punishing spells Test after Test.

He finished with 2-73 from 22.5 overs - the most of the day, naturally - but that barely tells half the story of a performance in which he had sitters dropped off England captain Joe Root in consecutive overs.

Sometimes the cricket gods don't play along. Even for the special ones like Cummins.

For the series, Cummins has a mighty 187 overs to his name. Only England's Stuart Broad, with 148.1 overs, is in the same ballpark.

There was a six-year period between Cummins' first and second Test appearances when such a record seemed truly fanciful.

Injury after injury cruelled the youngster to the point where some in the game began to wonder if he'd ever make it back at all.

Cummins celebrates with skipper Tim Paine.
Cummins celebrates with skipper Tim Paine.

Now, says Marsh, he finishes a gut-busting spell and looks fresh enough to run a half-marathon.

"Patty bowls 20 overs and if you ask him how he's going (he responds) 'yeah, I'm sweet'," Marsh said.

"He just doesn't really get tired. It's incredible to watch."

It's said the mark of a fast bowler is whether they can maintain their pace throughout the day.

More than just his exceptional control, accuracy and pace, what makes Cummins so impressive is how he performs in his third, fourth and fifth spells.

Ten overs after tea, Cummins was in the midst of another draining slog when he outsmarted Sam Curran - who was expecting a bouncer barrage - with a full and fast inswinger which trapped the recalled all-rounder dead in front.

It was just reward for tireless efforts. There was only one problem - he'd overstepped the mark by a matter of millimetres.

Those cricket gods really can play a cruel game, at times.