Justin Langer hopes that Pat Cummins’ record-breaking IPL deal will have mutual benefits that extend to Australia’s push for their first T20 World Cup title next year and the following tournament in India.
Cummins became the highest paid overseas player in the tournament’s history when he secured USD 2.2 million deal with the Kolkata Knight Riders. He was the leading name in a group of Australian players who did well out of the auction which included fellow paceman Josh Hazlewood (USD 282,000 to Chennai Super Kings).
Whenever a high-profile quick is signed for the league it raises the question of workload and them being removed from the Cricket Australia bubble, especially so in case of such a key figure in Cummins. He had hoped to get a multi-year deal from CA, which may have persuaded him to give the IPL a miss, but the board did not want to break away from their current model of year-by-year contracts.
Mitchell Starc had opted not to put his name forward for this year’s IPL so that he could spend time at home after a busy year, but Langer is comfortable with those that will be heading to India especially as it gives a chance to hone T20 skills.
Pat Cummins is a Kolkata Knight Riders man again BCCI
“In this cycle it’s hopefully going to be really valuable to us with two T20 World Cups coming up, we’ve talked a lot about emphasis we are putting on T20 cricket,” he said. “Ultimately it’s their decision as well, they play 12 months of the year now, you have to look at short term and long term, you certainly can’t begrudge anyone being in the IPL, but from a purely big-picture point of view from us, the fact they are going to play 10-14 T20 games, where we’ll play in two years, and with the World Cup [next season] that can only help their skills. Hopefully it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Cummins watched the auction on a stream at home as franchises battled for his signature. “I couldn’t really believe what I was seeing,” he said. “I try my best not to change, lucky I’ve got a good group of people around me. I still play cricket because I love it, just really fortunate and grateful but hopefully it doesn’t change me.”
Cummins did not play T20Is for two years between February 2017 and February 2019 as he was prioritised for Test matches, but has since been part of seven of the last eight matches as Australia turned their attentions to next year’s T20 World Cup on home soil.
As with a number of internationals, including Steven Smith and Hazlewood, there was a small window where Cummins could have appeared in this season’s BBL but he won’t be lining up for the Sydney Thunder. He is set to rest after Australia’s ODI tour of India in mid-January ahead of the limited-overs tour of South Africa then an ODI series at home against New Zealand to round out the season ahead of the IPL in April.
“He’s a great man, he is great around our team. He was great for us [in previous seasons] and we respected the fact that he needs a break,” the Thunder coach Shane Bond said. “We just said if he wanted to come back he was always welcome here.”