Pat Cummins on West Indies’ Gabba Test win – ‘As a cricket fan, there’s a part of me that was happy to watch’


The pain of a first home defeat as Test captain for Pat Cummins was still raw, but he was able to appreciate the bigger picture of what had unfolded on a dramatic fourth day at the Gabba, while his opposite number Kraigg Brathwaite reiterated his call for West Indies to be given more Test cricket.

When Josh Hazlewood’s off stump was extracted by Shamar Joseph, it gave West Indies their first victory in Australia since 1997, when Cummins was just four years old. The visitors had arrived shorn of experience, the majority of their caps split between just two players, but conjured one of the biggest upsets of all time by taking Australia’s last eight wickets for 96 runs – seven of them by Shamar.

“Yeah, you can [see the significance],” Cummins said. “Which isn’t necessarily helpful because you are still hurting after a loss. They outplayed us, they played brilliantly. I know a lot of the talk coming into this was there were some debutants and some names who hadn’t traveled over here before, but once you put out an international XI, you know it’s going to be tough.

“They’ve been fantastic, they created a couple of new superstars that we didn’t know about before the series and as a cricket fan, as a Test-match cricket fan, there’s a part of me that was happy to watch.”

Brathwaite, meanwhile, believed that West Indies’ bid to rebuild as a Test team was not helped by the long gaps between series.

“He’s class, has been class for 15 years. Thought he was brilliant the way he managed the innings and almost single-handedly dragged us over the line”

Pat Cummins on Steven Smith

“I do believe we should be playing more Test cricket more consistently,” Brathwaite said. “Our next Test is July 10, which is a long while away. I believe we have the talent and have shown the world we can win Test matches, but we need to play more.”

However, he also acknowledged that while a famous victory should be savoured, the players must maintain the focus that has helped them compete on this tour. “That’s how we keep pushing ourselves,” he said. “When you play Test cricket you are playing against the best in the world. The key for us is to never slack off and have heart. Obviously this team has a lot of heart. My theme to the guys is you did well, but this is just one Test win, we have a number of Tests remaining this year, so this same attitude we had, it has to continue.”

The result, reminiscent of the seven-run loss to New Zealand in Hobart in 2011, which ended with very similar scenes to the Gabba with David Warner carrying his bat while this time it was Steven Smith, capped a home summer where, until now, Australia had found a way to score enough runs without being dominant except for the first Test against Pakistan in Perth.

Data shows that batting has become tougher overall in Australia in recent seasons, and the earlier performances of Mitchell Marsh and Travis Head are given added weight because of that, but at the Gabba, Smith was left with a little bit too much to do, even though he threatened to win the game late on when he scooped Alzarri Joseph for six.

“There’s been times when batters have got us out of trouble and times when bowlers have got us out of trouble,” Cummins said of the relative lack of big top-order runs. “That’s probably been the story of this team over the last few years. Even in the Pakistan series, there were so many little moments where it took a bowler or a batter to stand up and [we] found a way to win, unfortunately that wasn’t the case with this one. These wickets have been tougher to score runs on than perhaps in the past. [But] ideally, those kinds of totals, we are chasing down.”

On Smith, who was elevated to open at the start of the series, Cummins added: “Other than two dismissals, they are the only two balls he hasn’t looked like he’s middled. He’s class, has been class for 15 years. Thought he was brilliant the way he managed the innings then through the different kind of passages and almost single-handedly dragged us over the line.”

Cummins also defended his decision to declare nine down and still 22 behind in the first innings to give the bowlers a crack at West Indies’ batters under lights on the second evening. “You never get to look at the other option, do you?” he said. “We created two chances that night and felt like at night was still the best chance to create a couple of wickets. Felt like that played out pretty well.”

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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