Pat Cummins’ middle finger: Express delivery, but no tip
Searing yorkers, unplayable bouncers, freakish swings. Australian fast bowler Pat Cummins has all these and more in his bag of tricks.
Cummins has reigned supreme over batsmen and the ICC Test rankings with his splendid bowling for a long time despite having a deformity in his bowling arm.
At 18 years and 193 days, Pat Cummins is also the youngest Australian to make his Test debut in the last 58 years, when he played against South Africa in 2011.
For the uninitiated, the 6’3” New South Wales player has the top portion of his right middle finger missing.
Pat Cummins’ missing fingertip
When he was about four years old, Pat Cummins lost the top part of his finger after it got accidentally slammed in a door.
“I lost about a centimetre off the top of my finger,” Cummins told cricket.com.au during an interview in 2011. "I still get my sister in tears ... (because) she slammed the door on it.”
The story goes that he had just returned home from preschool and had been given lollipops by a family friend to be distributed among Pat’s siblings. Excited, a young Pat Cummins ran around the house and found his younger sister in the bathroom.
Pat Cummins offered a lollipop to her sister, waving it around before the door slammed shut. It couldn’t be sewed back on and the pacer reckons, jokingly, that it may have cost him a leg-cutter.
Nevertheless, the afflicted middle finger did not act as a deterrent in his career, despite the digit being an important part in generating outswing.
“It doesn't really affect me because (the finger) is about the same length as the other one (index finger),” he explained.
The shortened finger clearly hasn't had any effect on Cummins's ability as a bowler, as he bagged seven wickets in his debut Test match. His six-wicket haul (6/32) meant he is the youngest Australian bowler to take five wickets in an innings.
He generates good pace as well. Pat Cummins’ fastest ball has been clocked at 153.56kph during the 2017 Indian T20 League when he was playing with Delhi.
‘Nice seam position’
Despite defying the odds and not letting the shortened finger cause any hindrance, Pat Cummins missed 64 Tests due to a string of other injuries.
He made his return to Test cricket after six years in the third Test between Australia and India in 2017 and it took just about nine overs for the pacer to get back into business. He claimed the wicket of KL Rahul in the 32nd over of India’s first innings before wrapping up his spell with figures of 4/106.
Brett Lee, Cummins’ idol, spoke of the pacer’s disability in his commentary while stating that the shortened finger may actually help the right-arm pacer's bowling.
“(The two fingers) are the exact same length, which may aid the ball coming out of the fingers with a nice seam position,” Lee said.
In 2019, Pat Cummins scripted a new chapter in his career, as he became one of the two vice-captains of the Australian cricket team in Tests, alongside Travis Head. He celebrated the appointment with a maiden 10-wicket haul against Sri Lanka.
Since his return to the Test squad in 2017, Pat Cummins picked over 150 wickets in Test matches.
While his career in Test cricket has been a delight to watch, Pat Cummins has also showcased his brilliance in limited-overs cricket as he has over 100 wickets in ODIs and over 30 scalps in T20Is.
Pat Cummins also became the Indian T20 League’s most expensive signing in 2020 when Kolkata picked him for Rs 15.5 crores for the season.