Injury curse strikes Cummins again

PATRICK Cummins admitted his immediate playing future was ”up in the air” after he was sent to have scans on a possible back injury that again threatens to sideline the talented teenager during Australia’s Test summer.

Cummins, 19, had scans on Wednesday after reporting soreness upon his return from South Africa, where he played a key part in the Sydney Sixers’ Champions League Twenty20 triumph.

He was not chosen in Australia’s squad of 12 for the first Test against the Proteas in Brisbane next week, but with selectors looking at including him for the third Test in Perth, the last thing they want is for the speedster to break down again.

”The scans aren’t too conclusive at the moment,” Cummins said. ”We’ll know more in the next couple of days … at this stage it is still up in the air … I’ll go and see the physio but I think we’ll know more by Friday.

”I had a pretty clear goal for the season this morning but right now it’s kind of changed and I’m not sure now, but I want to play some red-ball cricket. I haven’t done that for a while and I’m really keen for it. Right now [in terms of goals] I want to play as many games as possible and just enjoy playing.”

Cummins was an absentee throughout Australia’s campaigns against New Zealand and India at home last season after injuring his heel during his remarkable debut Test in Johannesburg. The injury at first seemed innocuous but turned out to be serious.

He has not played a first-class game since and had been keen to make a long-awaited return for NSW next Monday as a substitute in the Sheffield Shield encounter against Queensland in Brisbane. The Blues’ four Test players are due to miss the fourth day to link up with the national team and NSW will replace them with reinforcements if the match goes that long. Almost certainly, Cummins will now not be one of them.

Cummins has been beset by injury in the past year just as his international career has taken off. He was flown home from Australia’s one-day tour of England in June after sustaining a side strain in the first match at Lord’s.

He returned to feature in the limited-overs series against Pakistan and then the World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka before helping bowl the Sixers to victory in Johannesburg this week.

Australia’s crew of international fast bowlers – Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc – are otherwise fit and healthy but it would be a blow to lose Cummins.

”It’s a shame really,” said fast-bowling great Glenn McGrath, who was on Wednesday night inducted as a Bradman Foundation honoree, as was retired Indian batting maestro Rahul Dravid.

”He started off his Test career so well and I was watching him in the Twenty20 World Cup – he looked so impressive. He was thinking on his feet, he had good slower balls, good pace, he was hitting good areas. If there are issues with his back again it’s going to be disappointing.”

But McGrath agreed that Cummins would take time to grow into his body and had time on his side. ”When I was 19 I was living in Narromine and playing country cricket on Saturday afternoons and training once a week,” he said. ”He’s well and truly ahead of me.”

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