Pat Cummins targets ‘legacy-defining’ Ashes success after Australia’s WTC win
Australia captain Pat Cummins is eyeing up a “legacy-defining” Ashes summer after leading his side to glory in the World Test Championship final.
Cummins’ side succeeded New Zealand as the top red-ball team on the planet as they stormed to a 209-run victory over India at the Oval, but with just five days to go before the first Test against old rivals England, he was already casting his mind towards the next big challenge.
The 30-year-old boasts a glittering CV and has now become a three-format world champion, having previously won the ODI and T20 World Cups in 2015 and 2021, but skippering his country to their first series win over England in over two decades is a prize that potentially awaits over the next six weeks.
“Whether we like it or not, Ashes series tend to define eras and teams,” he said after leading his side’s celebrations the Oval – the same ground where either he or Ben Stokes will be lifting the urn at the end of July.
“An Ashes (in England) is bloody hard to win. It’s been 20-odd years so it’s not going to be easy. If we win, that is legacy-defining stuff.
“But we’ll savour this win too. We played some awesome cricket for two years and being there at the end holding the trophy feels well deserved. Our preparation has been for six matches over here, it’s one big tour with two huge titles to play for so it’s good to tick the first one off.”
England have been spending the last few days on a team-bonding trip in Scotland, mixing the occasional practice session at St Andrews University with plenty of golf, and after five hard days in the field now is the time for Australia to let their hair down too.
They may not have long to bask in their achievement, but with temperatures hitting 30 degrees in London on Sunday, Cummins has an idea of how to make the most of it.
“I think we’ll sit around in the changing rooms for a while and then we’ll find a nice sunny English beer garden somewhere this afternoon to sit back and celebrate,” he said.
“It’s been an amazing two years and we’ve had this final in the diary for a while. It’s been something that we’ve been building up for so it’s something we’re going to savour.
“I know we’ve got a big series but we can worry about that in a couple days’ time. You only get a few of these moments in your career where you can sit back, acknowledge a pretty special achievement and this is one of these times.”
When the dust settles, Cummins will need to confront a tricky selection conundrum. He all but confirmed that Scott Boland had made himself undroppable for Edgbaston, with the seamer outstanding against India and responsible for the decisive double strike that accounted for Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja on day five.
With Josh Hazlewood now passed fit for the Ashes opener, it appears a straight shootout between him and Mitchell Starc.
“Scotty was fantastic, he’s now my favourite player,” Cummins said.
“He keeps finding another level, doesn’t he? He was just our best bowler all game. He held it together, he didn’t go for many runs and to get two big wickets in an over is just reward for how well he bowled.
“For sure, Scotty has a huge role to play in the Ashes.”
For India skipper Rohit Sharma, there was disappointment. He had set his sights on going one better after India’s defeat to New Zealand in the inaugural final two years ago, and leading his country to their first global title since 2013.
He suggested a full series rather than a one-off match should be considered to crown the next champions, though the international fixture calendar is unlikely to allow for that in its present form.
“I would love that, but is there time?” he asked.
“In a big event like this, you need to have fair opportunities for both teams. A three-match series would be nice but it’s about finding a window.
“You work hard for two years and have only one shot at it. Test cricket is all about finding a rhythm and momentum.”