Cummins to captain ‘on the fly’ against unknown proposition with Windies fielding new-look side


Pat Cummins is about to experience something new in Test cricket: captaining “on the fly”.

Australia’s skipper knows little about many of his West Indies opponents in the first Test starting on Wednesday in Adelaide. The tourists feature seven cricketers who have played eight or fewer Tests.

Three of them – Kavem Hodge, Justin Greaves and Shamar Joseph – will make their Test debut at Adelaide Oval.

Which leaves Cummins, whose least experienced Test teammate is Cameron Green (24 Tests), admitting he’ll be captaining “kind of on the fly”.

“It’s rare you get that in international cricket,” he said. “But that’s exciting.

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“We’ll do a bit of research and try and get our heads around some of the players I’ve seen before. But really a lot of it’s going to be getting out there and that is going to be our first kind of feel for some of these players.”

A senior core of West Indians including former captain Jason Holder chose cashed-up global T20 tournaments instead of the Australian Test tour.

“Obviously as a Test cricket lover, I’d hope that you’re fielding your strongest side, whatever country, whatever time of year,” Cummins said. “But it’s not the case so you can’t force anyone out on the field.

“I know all these (West Indies Test) guys have been picked on strong domestic form, a couple of guys that we saw last summer were pretty strong. So it’s the way it is.”

Asked what the International Cricket Council (ICC) should do to prevent players opting for T20 leagues instead of Test matches, Cummins wasn’t sure.

Rallyin’ with the boys down under tonight!???????? #AUSvWI #MenInMaroon

— Windies Cricket (@windiescricket) January 16, 2024

“It’s hard. Each country is in a different position,” he said. “Big picture stuff, it’s not not really my forte.

“But yeah, it’s challenging. I haven’t heard one kind of silver bullet yet but I wish there was one.”

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite wants the ICC to schedule more Test matches in the Caribbean to help his team inspire a younger generation to covet the five-day contests.

And Brathwaite also hoped this tour of Australia, where the West Indies haven’t won a Test since February 1997, offers his young teammates a golden chance.

“They have have a great opportunity here in order to seal the deal and don’t ever leave this Test team,” he said.

“Performance is always important so here is (a chance for) each player to go there and make a name for yourself and play Test cricket for the next 10 years. Simple.”

Australia XI: Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Cameron Green, Travis Head, Mitch Marsh, Alex Carey (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins (c), Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

West Indies XI: Kraigg Brathwaite (c), Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Kirk McKenzie, Alick Athanaze, Kavem Hodge, Justin Greaves, Joshua Da Silva (wk), Gudakesh Motie, Alzarri Joseph, Shamar Joseph, Kemar Roach.

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