Cummins has longest injury-free run of career
THE morning aches and pains are gone for Pat Cummins, as are the sleepless nights worrying about his once-fragile body.
Those ill feelings disappeared as the young speedster played as much cricket without a break as he ever has in his career in the past eight months, including a return to Test matches in India.
Now he's ready to again take his talents to the best batsmen in the world at the Champions Trophy, buoyed by so much hard work he believes his body is "harder” than it's ever been.
"It was probably the first time in about five years where I've felt like I could play quite a bit of first-class cricket without having to worry about anything else,” Cummins said of his run of injury free cricket.
"Even in the past couple of years, playing some ODIs has been such a jump in intensity, so it always took a couple of days to get over it. There's so many games, so sometimes you don't get that rest in between.
"Whereas now, I just feel being a couple of years older, and having a full off-season at a pretty low intensity, when I did come back, it felt like my body was a bit more hardened than it used to be.”
Cummins is only 24, but after making his international debut way back in 2011 with a stunning six-wicket haul in a Test match in South Africa, he's had more misfires than a North Korean rocket.
Careful management and plenty of patience have finally got the 192cm speed demon to a place where consistent cricket is the norm.
He played right through the home summer - from domestic one-day games, through grade cricket, then the Big Bash, and finally was unleashed in the Sheffield Shield after Christmas.
Cummins was then thrust in to the Aussie one-day squad, played against Pakistan and New Zealand, then Twenty20s against Sri Lanka before he got the call to head to India to replace Mitch Starc.
That workload could have been enough for Cricket Australia to pull the pin, save Cummins up for the Ashes.
But instead he went to the Indian Premier League, signing an $875,000-a-season deal with the Delhi Daredevils.
Cummins played 12 matches, took 15 wickets, then hot-footed it straight to the UK for the Champions Trophy, where he should be unleashed against the Kiwis on Friday.
"Playing a four-day game for NSW I almost surprised myself how well I pulled up. I felt like I could have gone out and bowled another couple of games,” Cummins said.
"It was the same in India ... bowling three days in a row ... my body felt great after that. It's the first time in five or six years I have felt I could play a lot of first-class cricket without worrying.
"Playing games for eight or nine months flat out without missing a game or being rested ... it's been a dream run.”