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Cricket: Pat Cummins leads by example as Australia excel

Some pundits remain unsure about whether having a bowler as captain can work on the international stage, but Pat Cummins led by example as Australia enjoyed a stellar 2023.

The paceman seems like an ideal fit for the role due his calm temperament and his leadership has been of the highest quality as the Baggy Greens have won the World Test Championship and retained the Ashes in England in the red-ball arena.

Those successes were then backed up by the Aussies going all the way to lift the 50-over World Cup, beating hosts India in the final to send almost all of the fans in Ahmedabad home disappointed.

Cummins grows into Test role

Cummins had already forged a reputation as a truly world-class fast bowler before he ascended to the Australia Test captaincy in late 2021, having overcome injuries which threatened to curtail his career at more than one stage.

Following a draw with South Africa at the SCG, his 2023 continued in trying fashion as Australia lost the opening two Tests in India, before Cummins left the tour due to family reasons, with Steven Smith left to lead the side to a superb nine-wicket win in Indore and a draw in Ahmedabad.

India would also be the opponents in the World Test Championship final played in England and Cummins led his side to their first triumph in that competition as they claimed a handsome 209-run victory at The Oval.

The next Test assignment was the small matter of an Ashes series in England, who were rejuvenated under new head coach Brendon McCullum and skipper Ben Stokes.

The series opener was a thriller which was in the balance all the way, with Cummins playing a crucial role as the Aussies got home by two wickets.

He took four second-innings wickets, but it was his 38 and 44 not out with the bat which eventually made the difference, with Cummins adding an unbroken 55 for the eighth wicket with Nathan Lyon.

Australia then took a 2-0 series lead with a 43-run triumph at Lord's, with Cummins taking three second-innings wickets as the hosts were bowled out for 327, having threatened to chase down a huge victory target.

The rest of the series was something of a reversal of fortunes as England won at Headingley and The Oval to secure a 2-2 drawn series, with rain Manchester most probably denying them a victory which could have helped to complete a total turnaround.

Cummins ended the series with 18 wickets at 37.72, certainly not his best return, but he had overseen the retention of the all-important little urn.

He would then oversee a 3-0 home sweep of Pakistan, with Cummins taking ten wickets in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG as the tourists were beaten by eight wickets.

Five wins from the 11 Tests he played in during the calendar year does not seem all that convincing, but a World Test Championship and the retention of the Ashes both look very good on the Cummins captaincy CV.

ODI glory adds to Cummins' successes

Smith and Mitchell March lead Australia in their one-day series against India and South Africa respectively, but it was Cummins who was handed the reins for the World Cup in India and that decision eventually turned out to be inspired.

Having lost a warm-up series 2-1 to the tournament hosts, the Baggy Greens were beaten in their tournament opener against India by six wickets, before a 134-run thrashing by the Proteas left the Australia campaign seemingly in tatters.

However, from there things got better and better for Cummins and his side, as they won nine games in a row to lift the 50-over World Cup for the sixth time, taking revenge on South Africa and then India in the semi-finals and the final respectively.

Again Cummins maintained a leading role with the ball alongside his captaincy duties, taking 15 wickets in the tournament, just one less than both Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc.

A 50-over World Cup triumph, added to the World Test Championship and the retention of the Ashes is surely a record that any captain would be proud of and those successes have certainly made Cummins more than secure in his role for the foreseeable future.

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