Australia captain Pat Cummins says leading his side to victory in a dramatic Ashes opener at Edgbaston represents the “No 1” win of his Test career.
The fast bowler hit a match-clinching 44* as he completed a chase of 281 in commanding fashion during an unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 55 with Nathan Lyon when Australia were seemingly down and out at 227-8 on Tuesday’s final day.
Asked if this two-wicket success was the best win of his 51-Test career, Cummins – who recently led Australia to victory in the World Test Championship final over India, replied: “No 1. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Start of an Ashes series. No 1.”
Both Cummins and Lyon had been involved in another classic Ashes climax when England captain Ben Stokes’ unbeaten century was mainly responsible for the hosts’ stunning one-wicket win at Headingley during the drawn 2019 series.
Australia, however, would have won that match had not Lyon fumbled a run out, while Cummins conceded the winning runs when Stokes drove him through the covers.
“Yeah, I would be lying if I said it didn’t [cross my mind],” Cummins told reporters. “We were on the other side of one in the last series here. When you’re on the other side it feels like one that’s got away and it really hurts.
“It’s a really happy dressing room in there. A lot of those guys were there at Headingley and to clinch one that was perhaps out of our grasp for a little while there is pretty satisfying.”
While England tried to make the running with a bold declaration on the first day, Australia struck to a more traditional red-ball approach even on a last day where the morning session was washed out.
Their method was exemplified by Man of the Match Usman Khawaja’s painstaking knocks of 141 and 65, with Australia unaffected by the chants of “boring, boring Aussies” from sections of the Edgbaston crowd.
“The fans were pretty noisy out on the hill,” said Cummins. “Win or lose we are pretty comfortable with how we go about it.”
Cummins, bidding to become the first Australia captain since Steve Waugh in 2001 to win an Ashes series in England, added: “We’ve been really good for the last 20 Test matches over two years … We are at our best when we play at our own pace and tempo.”
Victory in the first of this five-match series completed a memorable week for Cummins, whose mother Maria died earlier this year, with the 30-year-old able to celebrate on the balcony with his father, Peter.
“Dad was here in 2019 with Mum, so having him here was really special. I went with him to see Bruce Springsteen [at Villa Park] on the first night as well. So, it’s been a good week.”
© Agence France-Presse