Cummins doesn't want to lose Australia's realistic chance at WTC final (again)

Cummins doesn’t want to lose Australia’s realistic chance at WTC final (again)

When Australia won the T20 World Cup in 2021, it felt like they had finally secured that global trophy that had long eluded them. But the reality is that there is another, albeit newly created, trophy that literally slipped through their fingers in 2021.

Australia missed the 2021 World Test Championship final because they racked up points for slow passing rates. pat cumminsAustralia’s captain, admitted on the eve of the first home Test of a new summer – and the first of nine Test matches leading up to the 2023 WTC Final – that his side had failed to realize what she had missed at the time.

“I think being new it probably didn’t hit us until the game was actually played and you saw there that New Zealand did well and you wish you were there,” said Cummins Tuesday in Perth. “So I feel like the second time there’s a little bit more. It was like a big missed opportunity that first time. So it definitely gives a little bit more context to each series now, whatever big thing to play for.”

Although there is currently general unease about Australian cricket for a variety of reasons, with fear the public of Perth are unlikely to turn out in droves to watch the first Test played in this city since 2019, every Test match now has meaning for this Australian side.

“The big series, say the Ashes or India series where you play four or five Test matches are obviously big battles, whereas the more mainstream series where you play two or three in a series, that gives them a bit more context. overall and something a little extra to play with,” Cummins said.

The Aussie public may not fully realize it, still yearning for a clash with the West Indies of old, but this two-Test series has a lot going for it. Australia are currently top of the World Test Championship table and are in pole position make the final in England next year.

Also for the first time, Cummins and a few of his teammates have started talking about how important the next eight months of Test cricket are to a group of players nearing the end of their Test careers.

David Warner, Steven Smith, Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood are all in their 30s, with Warner, Khawaja and Lyon on the other side of 35 having formed the backbone of Australia’s squad. testing over the past 10 years. . Alex Carey and Marcus Harris, who are also on the team, are also over 30, while Cummins turns 30 in May next year.

Warner has already hinted it could be his last 12 months in Test cricket, although he echoed those quotes ahead of the Test in Perth, while Khawaja admitted the team would enter a transition phase sooner rather than later which Cummins hoped would be later but confirmed was on the horizon.

“Over the next six or seven months we have 15 Test matches, hopefully there won’t be any turnover before that, but of course it happens,” Cummins said.

“To be honest, it’s the most stable team I’ve played in. You probably could have picked the team 12 months ago. I feel like we’re in a good place.”

An eight-month streak of Test cricket, comprising 15 Tests against the West Indies and South Africa at home, India and England away, and the WTC final if they get there, is a golden opportunity for a group that has not collected so many major players. Test the trophies as perhaps warranted by their collective talent, despite currently being ranked No. 1 in the world. It feels like these 15 Tests could cement a legacy as a great Australian team.

“I think it’s such an exciting opportunity for our group, to play four of the biggest rounds you’ll play as an Aussie Test cricketer within six or seven months, it’s a once in a lifetime career opportunity,” Cummins said. “That’s all we have ahead of us, it’s exciting. Obviously a summer at home is always important, with a Test World Championship it’s something big to play for. We’re getting a few wins here “, that pretty much guarantees our place in London. We all come here fresh. We know it’s a big block of cricket and we’re glad we did.”

But they can’t afford slip-ups like they did in 2021. They’ve already let slip moments in Test cricket this year that could have put them in an even stronger position on the WTC table. They failed to complete the fourth test from the ashes in Sydney in Januaryas England survived nine and did the same in Karachi in March when they lost a number of strikes as Pakistan survived 171.4 overs in the fourth inning. They too lost by a sleeve in Galle after going 204 for 2 on day one against Sri Lanka after winning the draw.

Anything short of winning all five Tests at home this summer against West Indies and South Africa could leave them vulnerable to missing the WTC Finals again, given they have a tough four Test tour. in India to negotiate in February and March, having won only one. Test it in 14 since the triumph of the 2004 series.

Neither home opponent will be easy to navigate, with West Indies unbeaten in Test cricket in 2022 while South Africa sit second on the WTC table despite losing their last two Tests to England in the middle. of year.

Australia is well aware of the opportunity that presents itself. They must now take it with both hands.

Alex Malcolm is associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

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