In the space of a month, Australia has gone from never having a fast bowler as a full-time captain to one who is an Ashes series-winning skipper.
Such has been the dominance of Australia’s triumph over England, it is easy to forget the situation the hosts found themselves in before the series.
Five weeks ago, Australia was left without a captain after Tim Paine’s lewd messaging scandal put cricket in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Players insisted Paine’s demise would not be a distraction, but they knew the only way to prove it would be on the field.
Under Pat Cummins, Australia demolished England by nine wickets at the Gabba in the first Test.
In Cummins’ absence in Adelaide and with Steve Smith standing in as captain, Australia won by 275 runs.
And in the paceman’s return in Melbourne came the most emphatic of all, with an innings and 14-run drubbing at the MCG.
England’s loss was the quickest-ever Ashes series defeat in Australia.
“Losing Painey was obviously not ideal,” Cummins said.
“But it was business as usual.
“We felt for Tim you know, wish he was there playing alongside us.
“But as soon as that wasn’t going to be the case, we had a job to do and a lot of really confident players around.”
Cummins has not missed a beat as captain.
His only mistake has been choosing the wrong table at a restaurant for a pre-Test dinner in Adelaide, ruling him out of the second Test as a close contact for COVID-19.
But outside of that he has led superbly, not been afraid to make a big call in bowling first at the MCG and backed it up with the ball by barely sending down a bad delivery.
“I don’t think it’s really fully hit me,” Cummins said.
“Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, those guys were the captains I grew up watching and idolising.
“So to be in that similar position … it’s just awesome.”
Cummins also hasn’t done it alone, even with Josh Hazlewood injured.
Of the eight bowlers Australia have used, only Michael Neser has averaged more than 25 runs per wicket.
Mitchell Starc has led the wickets with 14 at 19.64, while the performances of Jhye Richardson and Scott Boland could mean he is rested from the SCG Test.
“He’s been just about the player of the series so far,” Cummins said of Starc.
“This summer he has gone to a new level.
“He’s just found another gear with the ball that’s not swinging. He is taking wickets and beating the outside edge consistently.
“He’s been titanic for us.
“At the start of the summer we spoke about how there is external pressure, but absolutely zero internal pressure.
“We know what a superstar is. He’ll go down as one of the all-time great Aussie bowlers.”
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