Cummins explains radical change and ‘unreasonable pressure’ revealed by the Paine scandal

Pat Cummins faced the media for the first time as Australian captain on Friday, confronting the challenges he faced as a skipper in fast bowling, plus the impact Tim Paine’s fall has had on the team.

Cummins, the 47th test skipper, sat with the 45th – Steve Smith. Smith’s return to the top two in the lead, after the sandpaper scandal cost him the top job, becomes what Cummmins described as an “exalted vice-captain”. In other words, he will help cover Cummins’ problems by giving him the freedom to change lanes and make bowling changes.

Here’s everything Cummins and Smith said last Friday

About the particular problems a bowling captain faces and the Cummins-Smith dynamics

“There are a few strangers more about having a bowling captain,” Cummins admitted. “And that’s why I think from the start that I was absolutely determined to be the captain, to have someone like Steve as the vice-captain next to me.

“We are so well planned these days with not only the players we have around us but the staff, I feel like I have a lot of experience to draw on. I think a lot of the issues or potential issues around it being a fast bowling captain, I’m sure we’ll be able to solve.So feel overall excitement, as opposed to being too nervous about what might happen.

“I think one of the big reasons why there has been talk of fast bowling captains in the past is precisely the problems with the workload.

“There will be times when I’m out in the middle, it’s a hot day, I’m in the middle of a period, and I need to turn to people for advice on tactics, for experience, and that’s the main reason. , or one of the big reasons I wanted Steve to be vice captain.

“It could potentially look different from how you’ve seen partnerships work in the past. There will be times in the field where I throw to Steve and you will see Steve move fielders around, maybe make bowling shifts and take a little more of an elevated Deputy Captain’s role. That’s what I really want.

Pat Cummins and Steve Smith from Australia go on the field during day four of the 1st domain test between Australia and Pakistan at The Gabba on November 24, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse / Getty Images)

(Photo by Ryan Pierse / Getty Images)

“That’s what I’ve asked for, and I’m really glad Steve’s happy about it too. So we’ll go into detail on how exactly that works – but it’s going to be a real collaborative approach.

“Steve has such great strengths, especially around tactics out in the field, he sees it differently than the first drop, great experience, working spinners, bowling shifts, mapping a game, so I would lean hugely much on him for that.

“And yes, mine might look a little different from the outside than potentially other captains in the past. And that’s great.”

Smith said: “It’s my job to help Patrick in any way I can.

“If there are times on the pitch where I can help with the workload with Pat, then it’s my job. I’m excited to work with Patrick, we’ve known each other for a long time, we’re close friends, we get along really well. And I think we complement each other really well.

“This could be a really good partnership.”

Smith about the new role after previously being captain

Smith said he was “really honored” to be standing next to Cummins.

“There will be some negativity from some people around it, I understand that, and I understand that. But I’ve grown a lot over the last three or four years, I’m a more rounded individual.

“In return, I think it’s made me a better leader, and I’m excited to be in that position next to Patrick.

“I think he’s done a fantastic job over the last couple of years as a vice-captain and grown into a fantastic leader and I look forward to doing everything I can in my power to help Patrick and help this team to grow into a successful team both on and off the field. “

About Paine and the problems he goes through

Paine stepped down from cricket indefinitely last Friday for a break in ‘mental health’ in the wake of his lewd text scandal.

Cummins said he had been in irregular contact with his former captain.

“I’ve been chatting with Tim all week,” Cummins said. “I spoke to him this morning. We really feel with Tim and his family. He’s just a really loved, respected leader of our team.

“He’s been incredible to me. Now, especially since he was vice-captain, he’s been someone who’s really taken care of me and from whom I’ve learned a lot.

“It’s in line with all the boys and staff up here, we really feel with Tim and what he’s going through. We love him.

“We hope we see him back on the team soon and wish him all the best. He’s obviously been through a tough time. Beyond that, everyone else is in a really good place, really relaxed, really confident going to an Ashes “It’s only 10 days since we won a world championship, so the overall atmosphere, outside of Tim’s feeling, is one of genuine excitement and positivity.”

About the potential of Paine’s return to the team

“It’s probably too early to speculate,” Cummins said. “He’s thinking a few days at a time at the moment. So we give him as much time as necessary.

“We will definitely welcome him back to the team. But at the moment it is obviously not at the center of him.”

Smith added: “After going through some tough times myself, I encourage him to take care of himself and be really kind to himself. My thoughts are with him and his family. And of course he has taken leave, but hopefully can we will see him again soon. “

Cummins was asked about the high level of moral character expected of an Australian skipper and whether it was healthy.

“When it comes to that kind of moral character, I’m probably my own harshest critic and judge of it,” Cummins said.

“I know that with the role comes further scrutiny. But for 10 or 11 years I have played for Australia in public and I do not always want to get things right, I am certainly not perfect. There are going to be things that pop up “But as long as I can sleep at night, I feel really good about being responsible for it.”

Cummins has a reputation for being ‘squeaky clean’, but he finds that descriptions of his purity make him uncomfortable.

“It’s probably really hit the last few days to see Tim,” Cummins said. “I think a lot of the pressure and responsibility to be perfect is unreasonable. I think it’s too much to demand of anyone.

“And I think you have to be allowed to grow. We want players by our side who are just teenagers, just out of school, who are growing up, they have to be able to fail and know that they allowed to grow from it.

“I think it sends a bad message that everyone is perfect, that someone has no faults. I will definitely stand up for the players if they make some minor mistakes.

“They are opportunities to grow from. It’s not always ideal, but they happen. We need to control our expectations of everyone a little more. I think sometimes we need to be a little kinder and a little more understanding. “

He said it had been difficult to see Paine and Smith’s troubles up close.

“It’s really hit home, the extra control of being captain,” Cummins said. “It’s a reminder of how many Australians love cricket. And we have really high expectations.

“Some parts of it are scary, but you can not stay in bed all day and worry about some of these things. I concentrate on the fact that there is so much positive with this role, and so much, I think, “I could bring it. I’m not trying to overthink it and just trying to be me. I do not want to be any different. I want to be myself. And hopefully that’s enough.”

About his style of captain

“I will try to play to my strengths,” Cummins said. “Of course I’m a pretty calm person. I’m pretty positive. I really love people. I’m a real human being. So I want to look at being really cooperative.

“We have a great stable of senior players on the side, great staff. So I want to lean on everyone. I’m a big one to give individuals the opportunity to really own their role and take control of it. So you will not see me tell someone how to batter or someone how to bowl.

“I’m there to protect their freedom. I want to back them in, try to remove distractions, ease the pressure from them. And tactically, by drawing on a decade of international cricket, especially from the bowling side, I feel I can bring much to that role. “

On rest from samples

“I very much doubt whether I will rest from the test cricket,” Cummins said. “I have never rested from a game of test cricket before and I doubt it will start now. As for other formats, we will cross that bridge when we have to, like all other times in my career where there have been certain series, which we have identified as good opportunities to rest and get new energy for the big series.

“I’m pretty open about what’s going to happen, but I’m really campaign focused. That’s probably how I think about my bowling just as much as anything else. So we’ll put everything into the next six weeks, these five test matches and go from there. “

He was asked if he had ambitions to lead the white ball teams.

“It’s probably too early to tell, mainly because I want to start this role and then I’ll see where we go,” Cummins said.

“But my gut feeling and probably my preference at the moment, based on nothing, is to have separate captains.

“I think it’s too much to ask, determined by me. I would love to concentrate on test cricket and Aaron is doing a fantastic job. At the moment, I am solely focused on test cricket.”

On knowing when not to bowl himself

“I think it’s going to be one of the most important things I have to be aware of,” Cummins agreed. “And that’s why I want to lean on people like Steven, there are lots of senior guys around.

“I’m not out there alone. There are lots of people to lean on. You know, David Warner is there, Nathan Lyon, Starcy, Josh Hazlewood. Sometimes I may have to listen to what they have to say more , than what I myself have to say. ”

Whether the Paine question had stopped Australia’s momentum before Ashes

“We’ve been pretty conscious here in quarantine to make sure we remember we won a World Cup 10 days ago,” laughed Cummins.

“Mitchy Marsh tries to keep everyone’s reminded of it when he calls himself Norm Smith and carries his medal around him.

“We’re in a great place now. Winning a World Cup – we’re the best T20 team in the world – is a pretty great way to start a summer.

“In terms of the staff we have for the Test series, there are no injuries, except for Painey. Everyone is in shape, the guys who were in the World Cup are running high on confidence and we have some really good preparations up here.

“And then everyone else who comes in has just emptied runs and wickets in Shield cricket. We have a whole stable of really confident, exciting players who can step in.”

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