world cup: Pat Cummins banishes captaincy queries with World Cup heroics

Pat Cummins may be uncertain about his future as Australia’s one-day international captain after the World Cup but few of his colleagues will be urging him to abandon his India endeavours.

Australia had no shortage of contributors in the tournament, with Adam Zampa taking 22 wickets and David Warner scoring heaps of runs.

Cummins’ fiery courage and hopeless heroics with the bat, however, were instrumental in his side’s revival after a defeat at the start of the campaign.

In South Africa’s semi-final match on Thursday, Cummins scored an unbeaten 14 with bat in hand to win for the second time in the tournament.

First, he teamed up with Glenn Maxwell to save Australia against Afghanistan, hanging on with an epic knock of 12 not out from 68 balls to give his teammate a double century reach for victory.

Australia has had its fair share of serious skippers, from “Captain Grumpy” Allan Border to the stone-faced Steve Waugh. In contrast, Cummins has kept the mood in the dressing room and out at the crease, where banter with batting partners flows freely no matter how high the stakes. “I think it’s easier out there than sitting in the dugout,” Cummins said of batting in a tense finish.

After Australia claimed their first World Test Championship win in June, Cummins could become the fourth Australian captain to claim the 50-over world title on Sunday, joining Border, Waugh and Ricky Ponting.

For all of Australia’s success in the Test arena since Cummins replaced Tim Paine as skipper two years ago, his captaincy has not always been held in high esteem.

He leaned heavily on former captain Steve Smith and coach Andrew McDonald, battling doubts in Australia that a fast bowler can — or should — handle leadership duties.

Australia’s failure to win the Ashes in England earlier this year after leading 2-0 came in for sharp criticism from former players and former figures who nitpicked over tactical decisions.

Even his place in the World Cup squad was questioned given his modest bowling figures in ODIs compared to fellow lads Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

Former captain Michael Clarke dropped a bombshell that Cummins was set to drop after the opening wins in India and South Africa.

It was a red herring.

Cummins took two crucial wickets in the next match against Sri Lanka, ran out another batsman with a brilliant piece of fielding, and set Australia on their way to eight wins in a row.

With Cummins at the helm, a win over hosts India in Ahmedabad on Sunday would leave Australia as one of the great trans-format teams of modern times.

“The team has done really well and if you win the World Cup it’s a real feather in your cap as a leader,” Steve Waugh told News Ltd media on Friday.

“That’s a legacy you can leave. You can never take that away.

“It’s a big moment for him and the team.”

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