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Cummins hails ‘form team’ England, shrugs off Ashes impact

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DUBAI: Australia fast bowler Pat Cummins hailed England as the “form team” in white-ball cricket but shrugged off the potential impact on the forthcoming Ashes of Saturday’s T20 World Cup clash.

Eoin Morgan’s England are the 50-over World Cup champions and chasing a second T20 global title after their 2010 triumph.

Both teams go into Saturday’s clash in Dubai with two wins in two games and the semi-finals enticingly within reach.

Adding extra spice is the approaching Ashes series which starts in December.

“It’s always huge. We play England a lot. I think the style of play is quite similar. We like to take the game on,” said Cummins on Friday.

“They’ve been probably just about the form team the last few years in white ball cricket. We know it’s such a big game in the context of making the semi-finals.”

Australia are the current holders of the Ashes. However, few in the T20 teams are regular Test players.

For example, Morgan and Australia skipper Aaron Finch will not be involved while England fast bowler Tymal Mills only plays the T20 format.

“The majority of the side are mainly white ball players. Different format. I wouldn’t read into it too much,” added Cummins who does excel in both formats.

In the 2019 Ashes in England, he was his team’s leading wicket-taker with 28.

Cummins said Australia will continue playing four specialist pacers at the Twenty20 World Cup with their all-rounders shouldering the fifth bowler’s role.

All-rounders Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis conceded a combined 51 runs from their four wicketless overs in Thursday’s seven-wicket victory against Sri Lanka.

Asked if Australia were tempted to revert to their five-bowler theory, Cummins said ruled out dumping the strategy which worked in the opener against South Africa when Maxwell claimed 24-1 in four overs.

“I think the flexibility that structure gives us is just huge,” Cummins said.

Against Sri Lanka, Maxwell bled 16 runs in his only over, bowled during the powerplay, before being taken off the attack but Cummins said Australia, and quick Mitchell Starc, still benefited from it.

“Maxi bowling one in the first six (overs) means Starcy can have an extra over through the middle. We saw he took a couple wickets in the middle overs, that’s because we were able to have someone like Maxi ball early,” Cummins added.

“Stoinis still hasn’t bowled a lot but we know how much of an impact he can be with the ball, let alone having the option to now have that extra batter.

“I think we’re really well suited. We were covering a lot of areas with that fifth bowler. We’ve got Maxwell, Stoinis, [Mitchell] Marsh all who can contribute those four overs.”

Meanwhile, England backed-up their credentials with a six-wicket win against defending champions West Indies and an eight-wicket defeat of Bangladesh.

“It’s probably going to be one of our most difficult games,” Morgan said of Saturday’s game. “Australia are a very strong side — they’ve won two from two, much like us — and have started well.

“Our level of performance and intensity has been very good and the challenge is to continue that for our next three games in pursuit of getting to that next stage.”

Morgan admitted that fast bowlers Mark Wood (ankle) and Tom Curran (knee) are both still likely to sit out the match.

“They’re progressing really well,” Morgan said. “Where we were before the first game, they’ve come on a long way.”

Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2021

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