Having lost their patience, and the plot, against India in the last home series, Australia’s resolve to keep calm and carry on was key to their brilliant start to the Ashes, captain Pat Cummins said.
The world’s top-ranked Test bowler savoured a dream debut as captain, taking seven wickets for the match as Australia stormed to an emphatic nine-wicket win over England on day four of the series-opener at the Gabba on Saturday.
The victory banished the odour of defeat from the Brisbane venue where Australia, under former skipper Tim Paine, lost the series-decider to an under-strength India in January.
That loss gnawed at Australia all year, placing the team’s bowlers and tactics under scrutiny after they proved unable to deliver 20 Indian wickets.
On day three, as England captain Joe Root and Dawid Malan dominated in a 162-run partnership, the match may have stirred uncomfortable memories of India for some in the Gabba crowd.
But they faded quickly on day four as Australia rattled through England’s last eight wickets by lunch.
“I think we stayed a lot more patient,” said the 28-year-old Cummins.
“Especially this morning, we did what we do best and just try to own the top of off-stump.
“Don’t get too funky with the fields. Don’t get too carried away with the short-bowling plans.
“That’s probably one lesson, stay at Plan A for as long as we can.
“The way we started the match and the way we finished, we didn’t change too much.”
Australia’s dressing room has been tense at times this year.
There were reports of disharmony over Justin Langer’s intense coaching style, triggering “crisis meetings” between senior players and staff a few months ago.
Paine’s resignation from the captaincy over a ‘sexting’ scandal and his subsequent withdrawal from all cricket proved a major distraction in the lead-up to the Ashes.
Cummins had to step up to the captaincy earlier than he would have bargained for but was well supported by his players, who answered his call to keep frustrations in check and were largely brilliant in the field.
Alex Carey, who replaced Paine as wicketkeeper, took a record eight catches on his Test debut, while spinner Nathan Lyon took 4-91, including his 400th Test wicket, in a sparkling return to form.
Lyon said Cummins exuded calm as captain.
“That was a big message. I think Australia play their best cricket when we’re calm and we’re playing with smiles on our faces and we’re enjoying it,” he added.
“And I think Pat really hit that home. Let’s be calm. Let’s go do the basics really well and when our chance comes let’s be ruthless.
“That’s what Australian cricket teams do, and we want to become a great Australian cricket team.” — Reuters
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