Pat Cummins sparks Boxing Day woes for England

Pat Cummins celebrates the dismissal of Haseeb Hameed on Sunday.

Pat Cummins celebrates the dismissal of Haseeb Hameed on Sunday. Photo: Getty

Pat Cummins’ dramatic start to life as Test captain looks set to earn Australia the Ashes in record time after he ran through England’s top order on a dominant Boxing Day for the hosts at the MCG.

On return from a COVID-enforced rest in Adelaide, Cummins claimed three wickets in the opening session before the tourists were all out for 185.

Australia then exploded out of the blocks, with a 42-ball 38 from David Warner helping it to go to stumps at 1-61 and with the game firmly in the hosts’ control.

Needing a win in the third Test to stay in the series, England requires a miracle to fight its way back into the match.

Otherwise, Australia is poised to retain the urn in the shortest time since the 1890s, with England’s capitulation beginning just two-and-a-half weeks ago in the first Test at the Gabba.

And as has so often been the case since his return from injury four years ago during England’s last visit, it was Cummins who was the star on day one.

In one-and-a-half Tests as captain, Cummins has 10 wickets at 12.5 after also claiming a five-wicket haul in his first game in charge in Brisbane.

And after watching last week’s Adelaide Test from his couch after being a close contact of COVID-19, Cummins made a point to bowl full on a green wicket and was rewarded with a haul of 3-36.

“We tried to keep it really full in the first session,” fellow quick and debutant Scott Boland said.

“Their batters were pretty conscious of wanting to leave the ball, so we tried to keep attacking them as much as we could.

“(We were) judging ourselves on how much we could make them play.”

The quick claimed his first scalp with just his fifth delivery when one nipped away from Haseeb Hameed and drew his edge for a 10-ball duck.

Called in to replace the struggling Rory Burns, Zak Crawley fell to Cummins on 12 when he edged the quick to gully.

Cummins then broke the back of England right on lunch, breaking a 48-run stand between Joe Root and Dawid Malan when he got the latter edging for 14.

From there, the resistance from the tourists was meek.

Both Root and Ben Stokes threw away their wickets, caught to balls they need not have played at outside the off stump in what has been a bugbear for the tourists this summer.

Root’s innings was symbolic of his tour, out for 50 when he was caught behind the wicket for the fifth straight innings to a Mitchell Starc ball that went across his body.

Stokes’ dismissal came when he tried to uppercut Cameron Green over the slips on 25, but only aided the Australian all-rounder’s reputation as a giant-killer by hitting him to point.

Jos Buttler also went in careless fashion, caught on the leg side boundary when he tried to take on Nathan Lyon (3-36) and found the only man out in the deep.

And while Jonny Bairstow put up some fight with 35 before Mitchell Starc followed him and caught him on the gloves, nothing could be done to save England’s day.

Root’s men did manage to strike late when Warner was out edging Jimmy Anderson, but Marcus Harris managed through a crucial hour in his career to go to stumps unbeaten on 16.

Bairstow said his side’s decision making had cost it on day one.

“It’s a day we will look back on and probably reassess and next time potentially take a different option,” Bairstow said.

“I don’t think you can blame individual’s going out and playing the way in which they foresee the best way.

“The execution of those wasn’t there today.”

Despite the performance, Bairstow defended the right to attack the game.

“We’ve got to get a bit stronger and tougher with our dismissals,” he said.

“We know that, we’ve spoken about that. And that’s just being honest with ourselves. We need to keep keep doing that.

“We saw in that session in Adelaide that we batted for a period of time and put a lot on each of our wickets.

“When it comes down to seconds again here, that’s exactly what we’re going to have to do.”


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