Pat Cummins likes pace

Looking at how Cummins turned himself into a fast bowler who loves fast bowling.

When you think of Pat Cummins, you think of speed. There has been plenty of that so far in his career. But there is also the speed of his batting.

Pat Cummins has batted in just over half his career T20 matches.

In his first 48 matches that didn't matter much. He averaged six with the bat and scored at less than a run a ball in that time. There was simply no reason for him to bat.

Since then he has averaged 25 while striking at 150. This didn't happen by accident. Neither did his annihilation of Mumbai Indians the other night.

Pat Cummins took 35 runs from Daniel Sams in an over. And those two go back. Sams, like Cummins is from Sydney. They are within a year of age, and when Cummins was the golden boy recovering from his many injuries, Sams was trying to get a game with either of the two Sydney-based franchises. He was often a net bowler, and there is a fair chance he bowled regularly to Cummins. They overlapped at Sydney Thunder even. In 2018, Cummins didn't play, and 2019, where he had a single game.

Cummins spent much of his time between 2012 and 2017 working on his batting, when he wasn't jogging on weightless running machines. He took the little bit of natural batting talent and spent years honing it in the SCG nets. Bowling machines, thrown downs, and net bowlers. Of which Daniel Sams would have been one.

By the 2016/17 summer, Cummins was finally close to fully fit, and he was bowling very fast, but we expected that. He was also batting very well. In 2017 I was at a Sydney Thunder match when the Melbourne Stars took the fourth wicket and Cummins came out to bat at number six.

Now, there are some things you need to know about this. There were seven overs to come, and Andre Russell was due in next. After that was Jay Lenton, the wicketkeeper, and Chris Green was also playing. I would have expected all of these players to come in before Cummins.

But then I checked the scorecard, in the previous games, Cummins had been smashing the ball. 30 from 20, 36 from 23 and 39 from 26.

I still don't know what justification for batting ahead of Andre Russell was. But after a scratchy knock, the Thunder needed 16 from the last over with Eoin Morgan. Ben Hilfenhaus delivered length to Cummins and he drop kicked it over the boundary for six. Last ball Morgan did another and they won.

It was clear that Cummins had spent a lot of time working on his batting. Because before this run of knocks, he had DNBs more than he had innings, and had never passed 14. I left that game wondering if Cummins could be an actual T20 number six.

He has only ever batted that high two other times in his career. In fact, after that run it took him three years to score more than 30 in a game again. But there was a reason he was in good form coming into 2017. He had been spending years working on his batting when he couldn't do much else.

And so that hitting and planning and practising against Daniel Sams came together pretty well when Cummins equalled the fastest 50 in IPL history. 56 off just 15 balls, with six sixes and four fours - at a strike rate of 373.33.

This was only his third 50, and all three of them have come in an awful hurry. Other than that one innings I was at, every time he has scored over 20, it's been at a strike rate of 147 or higher. And yet he hasn't batted in almost half his matches. Yet he would appear to be one of the best death hitters around.

Since the 2020 IPL season began, there have been 61 players who face 100 balls of pace. Guess who has been the quickest? Yes, it is Pat bloody Cummins. I thought he would be high, but this is very high.

And he's not doing it at a bad average either. He just absolutely loves smashing pace. And he has been doing it well. This is the kind of record you would expect of someone like Andre Russell, not Pat Cummins. But actually, Cummins has easily outperformed Russell in that period.

And here is his record against spin in the IPL at that same time. He goes from the quickest player of pace to the slowest against spin.

Many players pick and choose what they want to attack, Jadeja was the second quickest against pace, but is the third slowest against spin. But his average is fine. Cummins average and strike rate falls off together.

It's not just the last couple of years in the IPL. Cummins has struggled to score quick off-spin right across his T20 career. Despite his great record, you won't really see him up the order. He's perfect for the last four overs.

But against Mumbai when he equalled this record, he didn't come in right at the end. His innings started in the 14th over. And Mumbai had two spinners left, Murugan Ashwin and Tilak Varma. There was time in the game for spin, but Mills was midway through his over, Rohit Sharma tried to get an advantage with Bumrah, and then Daniel Sams was on for the next over. He went for 35 runs in the over.

There was almost no time for spin, because of how Cummins hit, but with him at the crease, even one over is worth a shot.

He plays spin better in other formats of cricket, and his main problems come in T20. But I wonder how much of this was honed facing hours and hours of throwdowns and bowling machines. How many bowlers have ever faced the amount of balls Cummins has. Especially at an essential point in his development. Five years barely playing probably helped him develop his hitting like few other players have.

But perhaps so much time on the ball machine and with throw downs didn't help when it came to spinners. He does kind of bat-like a thrown down guy, he can essentially hit, or block, and has no real in the middle style. He's a committed blocker in Tests, a committed slogger in T20, and almost has no game. His batting is in fifth gear or with the hand brake on.

What Pat Cummins did back in those Sydney nets was really work out how to be an ideal number eight. This hitting has inflated his IPL price at times, even when his bowling hasn't quite backed it up.

Pat Cummins can can bowl pace, and hit pace, which is something Daniel Sams probably knew before the other day.