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‘Very unlike Australia’: Legend calls out ‘ugly and negative’ tactics… though they worked

Pat Cummins is coming home with the Ashes urn and the World Test Championship trophy — but questions about his captaincy — and his team — continue to swirl.

The Aussie skipper on Monday morning got on the front foot with a declaration he can handle the dual roles of captaincy and his position as the leader of Australia’s bowling attack.

His taxing workload was one of the reasons his captaincy has suddenly become a talking point in recent days after former Victorian state captain Darren Berry speculated the 30-year-old will step down from the captaincy.

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The fast-bowler said after the washed out final day of the Fourth Ashes Test that his team will not be celebrating despite the result ensuring Australia will retain the urn — a phenomenal achievement against a resurgent English side.

However, it is the manner that the urn was retained and his own performances with the ball that have led to some damning calls about the side under his leadership this series.

Australian legend Glenn McGrath was critical of the Aussie side’s “ugly and negative” plans.

“Australia’s job this week was to not lose this Test and retain the Ashes. They had to survive three days and they played this game in that survival mode,” he said on the BBC.

“They’ve looked a bit ugly and negative doing it. Australia came in with a clear plan, probably not the usual Australia way, but they achieved it.”

Former England captain Michael Vaughan was even more critical.

“I don’t remember a Test match where England have completely dominated and bullied an Australia side,” he said on Sky Sport.

“This is the number one team in the world and England have really dismantled them this week and it’s been an Australia side that has been playing for the rain. They’ve been playing for it all week.

“They picked a side that were just settling, with the deep batting and not playing a spinner. Their mentality and field settings and their negativity this week has been very, very unlike Australia.”

The BBC’s chief cricket writer Stephan Shemilt said Cummins looked “devoid of inspiration” and should be worried that “his entire team fell apart in the face of England’s shock and awe batting at Old Trafford”.

Cummins had a bad Test with the ball. Picture: Oli Scarff / AFP
Cummins had a bad Test with the ball. Picture: Oli Scarff / AFPSource: AFP

English cricket writer Chris Stocks gave Cummins a -1 in his Fourth Test player ratings.

He wrote: “Shocking captaincy, poor bowling — one for 129 anyone? — and lucky to have retained the urn”.

Cummins, however, says he isn’t going anywhere, despite conceding his efforts in the Fourth Test were well below what he expects of himself.

He also defended his team’s bowling plans after conceding a mammoth 592 to England off just 107 overs in Manchester before two days of rain reduced the match to a draw, saving Australia’s bacon.

Cummins said the three days before the fifth and final Test at The Oval would be spent assessing those bowling plans, with an attack of short-pitched bowling howled down by former players and commentators.

“We tried to throw a few different plans at them and maybe on another day they work – a couple of the edges carry through or some of the catches go to hand,” he said.

“You definitely look at what you can try and do differently for next time. That will be part of this week for sure.

“I think there are some obvious things we could do a little bit differently. Maybe some plans, the way we executed our bowling.

Pat Cummins said there were things the Aussies could do differently. Picture: Stu Forster/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

“But knowing some days batters are going to have days out. There are going to be times with conditions, there wasn’t a heap of swing or seam there and that happens. We’ve just got to make sure that when we get those conditions in our favour we really capitalise on them.”

Cummins was among the worst offenders with the ball, conceding 1-129 from 23 overs, the most expensive figures of his Test career, while also enduring criticism of his tactics.

It was an effort he knows was not his best, but Cummins was adamant it was more about “execution” with the ball more than any mental fatigue despite having already played five Tests in England, including the World Test Championship final.

“I let through more boundaries than I normally do, probably just one or two bad balls an over. I don’t know (why) really,” Cummins said.

“Rhythm felt pretty good, I felt like I was pretty clear in my own mind with plans so I don’t know.

“As a bowler it’s frustrating that I didn’t bowl very well at all, not up to the standards I try and keep myself to,” Cummins said.

“In terms of captaincy, I think there has been a few of those moments where the (England) batters have played well, the game moves very quickly. We knew coming into this series they were probably going to have a couple of days where it went their way and the game moves really quickly, so it was one of those days.

“It’s tough, frustrating, but that’s cricket. We’ve been on the other side of it plenty of times.”

It is a hard business being the captain of the Australian cricket team, and the latest round of criticism comes after Cummins was also accused of leading an “un-Australian” team during the T20 World Cup last year.

— with NCA NewsWire

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