Pat Cummins does not see any Test offs for Australia’s all-format quicks

Pat Cummins does not see a scenario where Australia’s all-format quicks are rested during the upcoming Test season after they showed their durability in getting through the 2023 Ashes and ODI World Cup.

Overall Australia have seven Tests from mid-December to mid-March: three against Pakistan and two against West Indies at home followed by two against New Zealand. There are also a batch of white-ball matches in February.

All three quicks have had spells away from the white-ball sides at various stages, including the ongoing T20I series in India, but Cummins can’t see anyone putting their hand up for a Test off.

“You are always dealing with something as a bowler,” he said at the SCG where he was reunited with the World Cup trophy. “When your hamstring starts to feel then you feel a pain somewhere else, then you wake up the next day and it’s moved somewhere else.

“Realistically the word rest and rotated gets thrown around a lot but you never miss a Test if you are fully fit. While over the last couple of years, we might have been rested from the odd game, the bulk of work we’ve been able to do is because of those small gaps. If we are fully fit we won’t be resting.”

Cummins played all six Tests in England earlier this year (the WTC final against India and five in the Ashes) and was ever-present during the ODI World Cup. Starc, who was left out from the Edgbaston Test at the beginning of the Ashes and rested for one game during the World Cup, carried some niggles after his efforts in England but regained his best form for the knockouts in India.

Meanwhile, Hazlewood, who had gone through a disjointed two years in Test cricket and has not played a full home summer since 2020-21 against India, played four out of six Tests in England and every game of the World Cup.

While Cummins’ position is obviously secure, not wanting a rest does not mean a guarantee of selection for others and there could be some tight calls to make during the season, not least whether Scott Boland can force his way back into the side at the MCG where he has such an outstanding record. There may also be an urge to unleash the uncapped Lance Morris at some stage while the ever-consistent Michael Neser will always push his case.

However, speaking to SEN radio, head coach Andrew McDonald indicated the Test side will always be selected with a view on the immediate challenge rather than an eye on the future which also bodes well for David Warner’s hopes of a farewell series against Pakistan.

“I think they’re isolated series,” McDonald said. “I think every Test match you sit down as a selection panel and you work out your best team and go from there, that’s the bowling attack, the batting, the wicketkeeping, every decision is in isolation for each Test match and I think that’s the way Test cricket should be, pick your best team at that point in time.

“There’s no doubt you will have a younger player from time to time that people will think needs to play or get exposure to play, but I think a lot of that always takes care of itself.”

Cummins, Hazlewood and Starc have returned to bowling in the nets over the last couple of days as they begin their build-up to the first Test in Perth. They are all well attuned to heading into a home Tests season without red-ball matches under their belt.

“It took a little bit to put the bowling shoes on for Joshy and I out the back here, but in a couple of weeks’ time we are in Perth,” Starc said. “As much as you want to enjoy the success of the World Cup and everything that comes with a hard tour of India, you quickly get into Test mode.

“Mentally you take a few days and refresh but the mind and body know what time of the year it is and it’s time for five Tests. We’ve done it for a few summers now so nothing new for us. Preparation looks different every year but for Pat and I it’s a few sessions of bowling and maybe a few rounds of golf then off to Perth.”

The fact that half the ODI World Cup-winning squad remained in India for the T20I series and the players who returned went to their home cities has led to a rather low-key celebration of Australia’s success over the past week. That continued with Cummins and Starc parading the trophy in front of the media and a smattering of Sheffield Shield supporters at the SCG. However, Cummins was adamant the scale of Australia’s achievement had been appreciated.

“It’s been amazing back here in Australia,” he said. “I know it was a different timezone, but walking down the street everyone has been talking about the World Cup, everyone’s buzzing about it. There’s been no shortage of Aussie reception since we got back, it’s been a great week. Don’t think it was maybe the scenes you would have seen in Ahmedabad if India had got up, but it’s been pretty big.”

Cummins and Starc also both reconfirmed they would be going into next month’s IPL auction with the tournament viewed as the ideal lead-in to the T20 World Cup in June where Australia have the opportunity to be the first men’s side to hold all three global titles at the same time.

“To hold one trophy takes a lot but to hold them across formats really shows our amazing coaching group but also the squad of players,” Cummins said. “You can’t do that with 11 players, you need 25 really good players so it shows the strength of Australian cricket at the moment and the appetite of the guys to compete whenever they play. Everything takes a lot out of you but the guys keep rocking up and performing which is as pleasing as anything else.”

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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