Australia's Pat Cummins claims an Indian wicket on the tour in March.
Australia's Pat Cummins claims an Indian wicket on the tour in March. Tsering Topgyal

Cummins uncertain if his body will survive Ashes series

PAT Cummins has made the stark admission that he has no idea if his body is up to five Ashes Tests in a row.

The clear message now to Australia's contingent of back-up quicks is be on high alert.

Australia's undisputed advantage over England this summer is the power of their superstar fast bowlers, but with James Pattinson already gone, the series-leveller could be if the Cummins, Mitchell Starc or Josh Hazlewood combination comes undone.

Four years ago, Mitchell Johnson ripped through England with an entirely unchanged attack around him, but Cummins has issued a sobering reminder that in the fast bowling caper, those superhuman records don't come around often, and injury or the need for rest are ever-present realities.

Cummins has played four Tests this year and has looked a tower of strength, but there is no tougher challenge in cricket than five back-to-back Ashes blockbusters in the space of six weeks.

England great Ian Bell has cast doubt over whether Cummins is capable of getting through the whole summer, and rather than use the swipe as motivation, Australia's right-arm enforcer concedes he may be right.

"It's a bit of an unknown. I've played back-to-back Tests a couple of times now and I've felt really good but five Tests in a summer is pretty brutal," said Cummins at Wednesday's announcement that Gillette are on board as Australia's new limited overs commercial partners.

"I think Joshy Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc lost something like seven or eight kilos just from bowling last summer. It's a bit of a shock to the body.

"So hopefully (I can do it). I feel like I'm in as good a place as I'll ever be to get through five. We'll have to wait and see."


Australia's Pat Cummins, right, and David Warner, left, celebrate the dismissal of Bangladesh's cricketer Sabbir Rahman during the first day of their first test cricket match in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)
Australia's Pat Cummins, right, and David Warner, left, celebrate the dismissal of Bangladesh's cricketer Sabbir Rahman A.M. Ahad

Nathan Coulter-Nile, Peter Siddle and Jackson Bird represent the cavalry, but they each come with their own question marks.

As good as Coulter-Nile was in the Indian one-dayers, he hasn't played first-class cricket for the best part of two years.

Siddle, 32, hasn't played long-form cricket since breaking down at the start of last summer and while Bird has been part of Australia's touring parties all year - he hasn't been given a single opportunity - with selectors preferring to fly Steve O'Keefe in to play ahead of him in Bangladesh.

Bell, a strong performer against Australia in recent series, senses there's a vulnerability in the ranks - and labelled the strong talking tactics as "a front."

"Australia don't know who their keeper should be. They don't know what their bowling line-up is, and despite all the talk, the fact is people like Pat Cummins have never played five games in a row in their lives," Bell told The Daily Mail.

"While they have four world-class players - David Warner, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood - what about the rest?

"There's a lot of question marks.

"As a young player on either side there's an opportunity to go down in history and when you look at it like that there is nothing to lose for this young England side. There will be more on Australia losing at home than England losing away.

"The Australians will be nervous, even though they like to give off the impression of being fearless. That's a massive front."

In a sign of just how long the wait has been for Cummins to hit full fitness, Friday's Sheffield Shield opener under lights for NSW against South Australia at Adelaide Oval will be his first ever foray with a pink ball.

Cummins says the fact he has put six kilograms of bulk onto his frame since the whippy teenager who debuted back in South Africa way back in 2011 has helped finally get him on the park for sustained periods.

As has a more patient outlook and an understanding he must find gears with his bowling, and not go 100 miles an hour every delivery.

"When I look back, I was pretty wiry," he said.

"I just feel like I'm a lot stronger all around. Whether that's growing older, gym work or running, it might be a combination of all those things."