Melbourne: Fast bowler Patrick Cummins has become the newest Australian sensation to win over the home media. His spell of 6/79 and his gritty 13 runs propelled Australia to a memorable win in the second Test against South Africa in Johannesburg.
Cummins became the second youngest Test player in cricket history to claim a six-wicket haul in his debut match at the Wanderers.
The 18-year-old showed nerves of steel and maturity beyond his age to share 18 runs with Mitchell Johnson for the ninth-wicket, helping Australia seal a brilliant comeback victory.
Cummins courageously stood up to Dale Steyn in those tense moments. He later acknowledged that he was the most nervous person in the world during the final minutes of the second Test match.
"Unbelievable," Cummins reacted.
"I'd been biting my nails all day watching the game. To get out there with a few runs left, I was about the most nervous person in the world," said Cummins, who was adjudged the man of the match.
That he was a special talent was clear to people who nurtured his cricketing career from a young age.
Born in Westmead, near Parramatta, the teen prodigy's early junior coach, Ian Clarke is not surprised by his meteoric rise. He recalls the day he first watched Cummins, aged nine, in action with the ball for local club Glenbrook-Blaxland against his son's team Penrith RSL.
"I remember we played against Patrick in the under-nines," Ian Clarke was quoted as saying by The Australian.
"There were a few blokes who were scared walking out to the middle when he was bowling. Every game you played against him, he was always the talk of the fast bowlers," Clarke said.
Even as a 14-year-old, Cummins had batsman 10 years his senior ducking and weaving -- something the South Africans got a taste of in the series -- as he clocked speeds of up to 120km/h while playing for the Glenbrook-Blaxland club.
After just three first-class games for New South Wales, Cummins earned Test selection.
Needless to say, Cummins became an overnight celebrity in Penrith with the media hungry to discover more about the whiz kid with an infectious smile.
He made his international debut in a Twenty-20 game against South Africa in Cape Town on Oct 13, claiming 3-25 off his four overs before grabbing 3-28 off three overs in his one-day international debut six days later at Centurion.
Former Australian batsman and Test selector John Benaud first saw the teenager play for Penrith grade club in the under-16 Green Shield competition almost three years ago.
"He is a very impressive young man," Benaud said.
"For someone who has had only limited first grade experience, he has a great deal of cricketing smarts and not everyone who makes it in to the higher areas of the game has that."