Johannesburg: Australia will need to manage the workload of their young fast bowler Pat Cummins, according to the captain Michael Clarke. Cummins was Man of the Match in his first Test thanks to his seven wickets at the Wanderers, where he also struck the winning runs in a display that was more mature than most people expected of an 18-year-old.
Fans are excited about seeing Cummins play at home, but with six Tests coming up this summer - two against New Zealand and four against India - it will be a heavy burden on Cummins if he is to play all of Australia's matches. Apart from the Tests, Australia will play two Twenty20s against India in January, and up to 11 one-day internationals in the tri-series with India and Sri Lanka.
Cummins is contracted to Cricket Australia but he could also have state commitments with New South Wales when time permits. This time last year he had not yet played for his state, and Australia will need to ensure they do not ask too much of Cummins in his first year of full-time cricket.
"We've got to be smart," Clarke said. "I don't think it's possible for Paddy right now to play all forms of the game for Australia. To play every single game I think would be silly. That's only my opinion. We need to speak to the selectors and we need to make a plan for him, because he's got a bright future. He's got the potential to be an amazing cricketer for Australia, and we have to be smart and make sure we look after him."
In Johannebsurg, Cummins was Australia's best bowler and took 6 for 79 in the second innings, his swing, pace and aggression turning the match in Australia's favour when South Africa could have shut them out. He was also calm when he came to the crease with Australia needing 18 runs to win with two wickets in hand; he hit 13 of them, including a four off Imran Tahir to seal the result.
"He's an amazing talent," Clarke said. "He's shown that in the shorter forms of the game. He's shown that throughout this Test. The one thing that continues to impress me is not just his bowling. I've made it very clear to him that I think he's a very good batsman, with a lot of talent. He just needs to continue to work hard with that. He's as good an athlete in the field as we've had come into this team for a while."
While Cummins was the standout, his bag of wickets only highlighted the lack of victims claimed by the more senior fast bowlers, Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle. Cummins will surely be the first bowler selected for the opening Test against New Zealand at the Gabba, starting on December 1, but Clarke said it was not a concern that Australia had relied so heavily on a teenage debutant in Johannesburg.
"I couldn't be happier, I don't care who gets the wickets," Clarke said. "I said that in Sri Lanka, Michael Hussey can get ten-for, I don't care who gets the wickets. I just want 20 wickets and I want to get more runs than the opposition. It was Paddy's day. First Test in Brisbane could be Peter Siddle's day or Mitchell Johnson's day."