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Pat Cummins
World Test Championship

'Really complete performance' – Cummins reflects on emphatic Ashes win on captaincy debut

The Ashes

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Pat Cummins couldn't have asked for a better debut as the Test captain as Australia registered a comfortable nine-wicket win to go 1-0 up in the Ashes.

Cummins was handed the reins of Australia's captaincy less than two weeks before the commencement of the first Test of the Ashes at Brisbane. Tim Paine stood down from captaincy and subsequently decided to take an indefinite break from cricket, leading to Cummins being named the Test captain and Steve Smith his deputy.

In his first game as Australia captain, Cummins led from the front with a five-wicket haul in the first innings as England were skittled out for 147 on the first day. In response, a century from Travis Head and fifties from David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne took the game away from England as the hosts took a 278-run lead.

"Really enjoyed it, a lot of things did go right probably from the toss, overcast conditions, the wicket had a bit in it and to turn up on day two under blue skies, someone's smiling over me," said Cummins.

"[I am] really proud of everyone, it was a complete performance, the bowlers did their thing. Then Marnus [Labuschagne] and Davey's [David Warner] partnership and the way Travis [Head] played. [It was] a sign of a positive, brave side."

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 There was some resistance from Joe Root and Dawid Malan in England's second innings as they went to stumps on day three at 220/2.

On day four, it only took four overs for Australia to break the partnership, with Nathan Lyon finally getting to his 400th Test wicket with the scalp of Malan for 82. Chris Green removed Root three overs later to break the back of the England innings.

Cummins praised his bowlers for their efforts in the first session that saw England bowled out for 297, setting Australia a small target of 20 runs.

"I was really happy about how everyone stuck to it, we bowled without luck yesterday. We turned up positive today and not thinking about too much other than trying to get that breakthrough," said Cummins.

Cummins singled out praise for the Player of the Match Travis Head, whose innings of 152 in just 148 balls, laced with 14 fours and four sixes, took the game away from England and put Australia in the driver's seat.

Australia were in a spot of bother at 195/5 after they lost Smith, Warner and Green in a space of three overs. Head stitched crucial partnerships of 41 (with Alex Carey), 70 (with Cummins) and 85 (with Mitchell Starc) to propel Australia to 425, a lead of 278.

"That's why we want Travis Head in the side, he can take the game away in a couple of hours, we have seen him do it for South Australia," said Cummins. "He averages 45 now, he is still young but is an old pro with the amount of first-class cricket he has played and hopefully he is away now."

The only concern for Australia from the first Test will be the fitness and availability of Josh Hazlewood at Adelaide. The right-arm pacer suffered a minor side strain on the third day and bowled only 14 overs in the second innings.

Warner too was hit in the ribs in the first innings by Ben Stokes and didn't take the field for the rest of the game, with Carey opening the innings as Australia chased 20. Cummins provided an update on both the key players going into the second Test in Adelaide.

"He's [Hazlewood] a little bit sore," Cummins said. "He came out today and was able to bowl, got through a really good spell. We just managed him, it's a five-Test summer and he's key for us so don't want to blow him out of the water on day three.

"Nothing too serious but didn't want it to turn into a huge injury. The key is we don't want to put him in jeopardy for the whole series. We'll take our time.

"Think he [Warner] had a hit earlier and got through. Still pretty sore but should be right for Adelaide. We'll monitor him but think he'll be fine." 

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