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Cummins hoping for a Johnson repeat

Luckless speedster in best nick of his career and wants to follow in footsteps of England's '13-14 tormentor

Pat Cummins would love nothing more than to assume Mitchell Johnson's mantle as Ashes destroyer and the injury-cursed quick hopes his career-best physical fitness will help him do just that this summer.

The speedster's horror run of injuries and untimely setbacks, a story told countless times over six luckless years, finally appears behind him having gotten through a full summer of international limited-overs matches last season and then four straight Tests on the subcontinent.

Cummins, who like his fellow likely Magellan Ashes teammate Mitchell Starc can hit speeds of more than 150kph, believes he’s primed to replicate Johnson's fear-inducing 37-wicket series from 2013-14.

England beware! Cummins primed for Ashes blitz

"We saw what Mitchell Johnson did last time in the Ashes over here," Cummins told reporters in Brisbane.

"I would love to be that bowler - along with ‘Starcy’ as well - who can run in and bowl in short spells flat out as fast as they can.

"That's a role I would love to play."

For once, Cummins is content with missing a game of cricket this week.

As the sole fit member of much-hyped 'Big Four' for a period of weeks in the lead-in to the home summer, Cummins is on ice at the Bupa National Cricket Centre for the final week before the Ashes series gets underway at the Gabba next Thursday.

Instead of joining his NSW teammates in their JLT Sheffield Shield clash with Queensland on Allan Border Field, the paceman is tuning up in the nets alongside presumed fellow first Test quicks Starc and Josh Hazlewood, as well likely back-up seamer Jackson Bird.

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Cummins says he has no qualms with missing the Shield game, confident this route is the perfect preparation for the forthcoming five-Test bout against England.

"Absolutely," the right-armer said when asked if he’s in the best physical shape of his career.

"My body hasn’t been in the position where I can play all the time, where at the moment I feel like I am now.

"I feel like I’m in a really different position to what I was the last few years. The last few years I'd play a couple of games and I got sore or didn’t really feel quite up to first-class cricket.

"Whereas here it feels like I play a game and all I have to think about is the next game coming up.

"I know Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee were similar. They missed a lot of cricket early in their careers.

"It probably gave me a little bit of confidence and a little bit of patience. Now I’m at the stage where I don't have to worry about it."

While building that confidence took time, Cummins' return to the Test arena could hardly have gone better.

Thrust into Australia's side as Starc's replacement for the final two Tests of the Qantas Tour of India earlier this year, Cummins showed he had lost none of the pace that had excited Australian fans nearly six years' back in his stunning debut against South Africa.

By the end of the ensuing two-Test trip to Bangladesh in the middle of its sweltering monsoon season, Cummins had become Australia's spearhead (following a side strain to Hazlewood) and was lauded by teammates for his tireless efforts with the ball.

In conditions numerous Australia players said were the most gruelling they'd ever played in, Cummins now says he's a more complete bowler.

Aussies rout Bangladesh top order in second dig

"With the heat and everything I thought it cannot get much harder than this," Cummins said of the Bangladesh tour, where his figures of his six wickets at 29 fail to reflect his impact on the 1-1 drawn series.

"Hearing Nathan Lyon and a few of the guys saying that was the toughest days of cricket they have played gave me a lot of confidence.

"I think it (the Bangladesh tour) has changed me. There was not much swing so really the only other option was to run in and bowl as fast as I can to try and intimidate them.

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"The confidence I got out of being able to sustain full days of cricket bowling flat out in an intimidatory role, that gave me a lot of confidence.

"I am able to sustain spells a bit longer. More than anything I have learnt about those different gears.

"I used to feel I had to be the guy who bowled as fast as he could every time he bowled. I learnt that sometimes when the ball was swinging maybe you don't have to bowl as fast.

"I feel I have a few more options up my sleeve rather than just bowling as fast as I can."

2017-18 International Fixtures:

Magellan Ashes Series

First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets

Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets

Gillette ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets

Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets

Gillette T20 INTL Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 13

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21