Pat Cummins, the Australian fast-bowler who emerged in the cricketing field in 2011, has now become a pivotal member of the team and is one player on whom the captain relies to provide the crucial breakthroughs at key junctures of the game.
The pacer came back from the tour of Pakistan mid-way to ensure that he is fit enough to be a part of the Australian squad for the World Cup and the Ashes.
In an exclusive interview with ANI, the pacer opens up on why he decided to opt out of the Indian Premier League (IPL) this year and how the team shapes up for the upcoming World Cup and the Ashes.
The bowlers of Australia have not been playing all their matches to ensure that their workload gets managed. The pacer says it was a voluntary decision to opt out of the IPL to ensure he stays fit for the upcoming World Cup and the Ashes.
"We have all opted to take a break instead of playing the IPL this year in the hope that it will give us the best chance of being fresh and ready for the World Cup and ashes. My aim is to play every game but there is no doubt it takes a full squad to win a World Cup, not just 11 players," Cummins told ANI.
The 25-year old Cummins has had a memorable year for Australia, winning his first ever Allan Border medal earlier this year. He has been the one to provide the team with an X-factor in the recently concluded series against India. The pacer says 2017-18 was his first big year of international cricket and he feels that he got through the period reasonably well.
"It has been a great year personally. 2017/18 was my first big year of international cricket and I felt like I got through that physically well, and learnt a lot about what it takes to compete consistently. After a good pre-season, I felt I also made some improvements and was fresh for this past season. Now the aim is to maintain that for a big English summer," Cummins said.
Australia after losing their players like David Warner and Steve Smith (after their involvement in the ball-tampering case), were not able to win many matches, suffering the Test series loss against India at home. But the team managed to change their fortunes around as they defeated both India and Pakistan in the recently concluded ODI series.
The team was 0-2 down in the series against India, but they were able to stage a stunning comeback, winning the remaining three matches to take the five-match series 3-2. The pacer says that winning the series against India was a huge achievement and it orders well for the team for the upcoming World Cup.
"It has been an ideal preparation this last couple of months. We have really found our rhythm in ODI's with everyone finding form, stepping up at certain times when needed and understanding our roles in the side. Especially that series win in India was a huge achievement," Cummins said.
With the current bunch of players of Australia performing really well for the team, the selectors are having a headache as both David Warner and Steve Smith are scheduled to come back into the team for the World Cup. Players like Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb performed exceptionally well against India and Pakistan, so selectors are expected to have a tough time in naming their final fifteen for the World Cup squad.
Cummins believes that having too many options is a good problem to have for the selectors and he thinks that there will be definitely some unlucky players who will miss out from the World Cup team.
"We saw just in the recent series how hard it was to select a team as everyone was in great form. Ashton Turner played one of the great innings to win us a game, then 2 games later was the unlucky man out. Picking the squad will be no different with Steve and Davey, as well as Josh Hazlewood and Starcy, being back available. It's a good problem to have but there will definitely be some unlucky guys who miss out," Cummins said.
Australia were not among anyone's contenders for the World Cup, but with the recent series wins against India and Pakistan, many former cricketers have termed Australia as the prime favourites for the World Cup. The pacer believes that as an Australian, players want to lift the big tournaments so everyone in the team aims to peak around that time.
"I think first of all the schedule makes it hard a lot of the time to have a really consistent ODI side. The good thing we've managed the past few months is to play a big block of ODI's with a consistent group of guys. As an Australian cricketer you want to win the big tournaments, the Ashes, World Cups, away Test series especially, so everyone always aims to peak around these times," Cummins told ANI.
Cummins would hope to spring some strong performances in the upcoming World Cup and Ashes.
Australia takes on England (May 25) and Sri Lanka (May 27) in the warm-up matches right before the World Cup.
The team plays Afghanistan in their opening match of the World Cup on June 1.