Dubai: Pat Cummins, who turned heads by being the most expensive overseas buy in the last Indian Premier League (IPL) auction when he was picked up by Kolkata Knight Riders for a record $2.1 million (Rs 155 million), will have the task cut out this season to show that the money was well spent on him. The Australian, who arrived in the chartered flight alongwith his other compatriots and England players in the UAE on September 17, is currently in quarantine in his hotel room in Abu Dhabi.
It will be interesting to see the role of the tearaway, a conventional fast bowler who can swing the new white ball prodigiously, on the wickets of UAE. ‘‘The thing I love about T20 cricket is it’s ultra-attacking, or at the death, it’s ultra-defensive. There is no middle ground. So in T20 cricket, if you are an all-out bowler, you get to bowl any time of the match. That’s why I love the format,’’ said the 27-year-old Cummins.
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Speaking to www.kkr.in, Cummins candidly admitted that he was looking forward to working with Brendon McCullum, the new head coach who had also been a captain of KKR in the initial years of the IPL. ‘‘The first thing that I am really excited about is that I don’t have to bowl to him (McCullum) anymore! He was one of the best and most feared hitters I have come up against in my career. It can be the first ball of the match and he might be hitting over your head for a six!
‘‘So, I am happy that he is in my team as a coach and that I don’t have to bowl to him. He is someone I really admire for his fire. Whether it was his stint as the captain of the New Zealand team or his approach in the IPL clashes, I just love the way he goes about it. He really wants to put on the show and take the game on,’’ said Cummins, who is expected to figure in their opening match - a potential cracker against the other Abu Dhabi based outfit - Mumbai Indians on September 23.
Cummins, who had shown enormous resilience during his career - beset by any number of injuries - to emerge as one of the lethal fast bowlers in the mould of a Dale Steyn. He has drawn lavish praise from Kyle Mills, the Kiwi who is KKR’s fast bowling coach and feels that Cummins is the most complete fast bowler in the world now.
Asked what Mills’ endorsement means to him, Cummins said: ‘‘I feel the same about him as I do about ‘Baz,’ again, an ex-player, an absolute master of his craft! He has got an incredible record for New Zealand. You don’t get too many opportunities to work with totally different coaches. Now in Australia, we have got the same. We have coaches for different formats and then state teams. So, you might have two or three different coaches. But the opportunity to go and work with Kyle, who has played around the world, will definitely bring to me different things that I never thought about bowling before. So, yeah I am really excited to work with him.’’
A cold statistic at this point will sum up the havoc injuries played his career. After having made his debut as a 18-year-old in Johannesburg against South Africa in 2011, where he became the youngest Australian to wear the baggy green since Ian Craig in 1953, his second Test was against India in Ranchi in 2017 six years later - thanks to a series of stress fractures.
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How furstrating was it, each year, to go to the Sydney Cricket Ground and answer the same questions about the latest injury? ‘‘It was certainly a few tough years. Since I was six years old, summers for me would mean cricket. I will spend weekends and every day after school playing cricket. And then suddenly, I was a professional cricketer but I wasn’t playing any cricket during summer. It was all weird.
‘‘There were these great games at SCG I would feel like playing but I was injured. It was so close but because I was injured I couldn’t even go and play backyard cricket. In terms of the schedule, just at the start of the Aussie summer, I would get injured and by the end of the summer, I would just be starting to get right. That’s how I would go and play overseas and again at the start of next summer I would get injured. So, it was tough because I felt I was wasting so many years. But yeah, I again got back to my 100 %. So, it was not like I felt I would never be able to bowl at the top level again.
‘‘It was more of frustration for all the cricket that I was missing out on,’’ he added.