The world number one Test bowler in ICC rankings lost a part of his middle finger when he was just three-year-old.
While India found numerous heroes in the 2021 Border-Gavaskar Trophy down under, the only stand-out performer for the Australians was their star bowler Pat Cummins. The 27-year-old, who is also Australia’s vice-captain, finished as the highest wicket-taker in the four-match Test series with 21 wickets at an average of 20.05 and strike rate of 46.3.
The New South Wales cricketer bowled the most number of overs (162.1) in the Test series, consistently extracting bounce to produce unplayable deliveries that troubled the vaunted Indian batting line-up constantly.
A quick look at his bowling acumen, and one would never be able to make out the disadvantage that Cummins bowls with. The 6’3” bowler, who averages a speed of 143.3 kph, has the top portion of his right middle finger missing.
How Pat Cummins lost part of his middle finger
At 18 years and 193 days, Pat Cummins had become the youngest Australian to make his Test debut in the last 58 years, when he played against South Africa in 2011. And shortly before his debut, he would sit for an exclusive interview with cricket.com.au to narrate the tale.
"I lost the top of my finger when I was about three or four (years old). It got slammed in a door and I lost about a centimetre off the top of my finger, " said the then-18-year-old.
The middle finger, which is considered to be an important part in generating outswing for pacers, did not act as a deterrent in his career.
“It doesn't really affect me because (the finger) is about the same length as the other one (index finger)."
He had also jokingly added that he still gets his sister in tears over the incident that took place in their childhood.
"I still get my sister in tears ... (because) she slammed the door on it.”
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 inning.
Pat Cummins takes 6/79 in his debut Test. Brett Lee had similar hype about him and his pace ahead of his debut. He took 5/47 against India.— Adam White (@White_Adam) November 20, 2011
What a great win by the Aussies, dream debut for Pat Cummins lets hope he is managed well cant carry the attack all summer.— Tom Moody (@TomMoodyCricket) November 21, 2011
Long wait since Test debut
In the third Test between Australia and India in 2017, Brett Lee, Cummins’ idol, spoke of the pacer’s disability in his commentary while stating that the shortened finger may actually help the right-armer'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.
Pat Cummins is bowling in a Test Match. Since his last over in Tests Australia has had four different Prime Ministers.— Jarrod Kimber (@ajarrodkimber) March 17, 2017
Pat Cummins made his return to Test cricket after missing 64 Tests due to a string of injuries, 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.
8th wicket in Test cricket for Pat Cummins. Two of his previous 7 Test victims have announced their retirement. #INDvAUS— Sampath Bandarupalli (@SampathStats) March 17, 2017
2019 scripted a new chapter in Pat Cummins’ 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 has been a regular face to watch and he currently has 164 wickets in 34 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 111 wickets in ODIs and 37 scalps in T20Is. The 26-year-old became the most expensive signing in the auctions for the Indian T20 League 2020 season (Rs.15.5 crores) and one can fancy the Australian superstar to dazzle with his brilliance in the 2021 edition, just as he continuously does in the Big Bash League.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Patrick Hamilton