Toss-up: Conditions still key in Cummins' crucial call

Aussie skipper says he's yet to master the science of pitch summation as rivals gain World Cup edge

'Every game now is almost like a final': Cummins

Pat Cummins admits he's yet to get summarising conditions down to "a perfect science" but the Australian skipper has ruled out locking in a designated approach at the coin toss.

It's been a slow start to the World Cup for the five-time champions, who find themselves winless from their first two matches.

But Cummins has had success at the toss, winning both coin flips against India and South Africa after having a torrid time during the Ashes where he only won one of five tosses.

Not that winning the toss has been an advantage.

Twelve matches into this World Cup and only four teams that have won the toss have gone on to win the game prior to England's clash with Afghanistan on Sunday. 

Cummins chose to bat first against India but changed tack and chose to bowl first against South Africa, and on both occasions the opposition appeared to have the better of the conditions. 

Reigning World Cup champions England have chosen to bowl first in 11 of the past 12 matches where they've won the toss, but the Aussie leader is holding off committing to one method or the other.  

"You've still got to assess conditions, India is a big country," Cummins told reporters on Sunday. 

"Chennai is a long way away from say, up north like Delhi or somewhere like that.

Andy Flower, Andrew McDonald and Cummins inspect the Lucknow pitch // Getty

"There are big differences, it's not a perfect science. 

"Most games are 50-50 whether you bat first or bowl first. Whatever you do, you've got to do it well."

There has been a slight advantage to the teams batting second in the early stages of this tournament, with the chasing side winning seven of 12 matches.

The Aussies could perhaps point to their lack of experience playing in India in October and November as the country enters winter for their uncertainty as to how the pitch will play.

Prior to this World Cup, Australia had played 25 ODIs in India in the past decade but none at this time of year since 2013, when they lost a seven-match series 3-2, with a 24-year-old Glenn Maxwell the only player remaining from that squad.

Their Indian Premier League experience doesn't help either with that tournament taking place in April and May.

In that period, the West Indies had played the most October-November ODIs in India with 14, while South Africa, New Zealand and Afghanistan had each played eight and Sri Lanka five.

England, and Pakistan, of course, had played none.

Even the endless T20s that are played in the subcontinent nation don't offer much insight in terms of how to approach one-dayers says Cummins, given how different the formats are.

"It's a tricky one," he said, when asked about assessing the foreign conditions.

"Even ODI cricket compared to T20s. (They're) played (with) half the game in daylight and half at night so it's a bit different to T20 cricket. 

"I find these wickets sometimes hard to read as well. Sometimes they look terrible and play beautifully and (also) the opposite, sometimes it looks flat and they end up spinning, so it is tough. 

"You've just got to adapt on the fly."

Australia's 2023 ODI World Cup fixtures

October 8: Lost to India by six wickets

October 12: Lost to South Africa by 134 runs

October 16: v Sri Lanka, Lucknow (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

October 20: v Pakistan, Bengaluru (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

October 25: v Netherlands, Delhi (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

October 28: v New Zealand, Dharamsala, 4pm AEDT

November 4: v England, Ahmedabad (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

November 7: v Afghanistan, Mumbai (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

November 11: v Bangladesh, Pune, 4pm AEDT

Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Sean Abbott, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa

2023 World Cup standings

Matches played
No results
Net Run Rate
Total points
1 India Men India Men IND 9 9 0 0 0 2.57 0 18
2 South Africa Men South Africa Men SA 9 7 2 0 0 1.261 0 14
3 Australia Men Australia Men AUS 9 7 2 0 0 0.841 0 14
4 New Zealand Men New Zealand Men NZ 9 5 4 0 0 0.743 0 10
5 Pakistan Men Pakistan Men PAK 9 4 5 0 0 -0.199 0 8
6 Afghanistan Men Afghanistan Men AFG 9 4 5 0 0 -0.336 0 8
7 England Men England Men ENG 9 3 6 0 0 -0.572 0 6
8 Bangladesh Men Bangladesh Men BAN 9 2 7 0 0 -1.087 0 4
9 Sri Lanka Men Sri Lanka Men SL 9 2 7 0 0 -1.419 0 4
10 Netherlands Men Netherlands Men NED 9 2 7 0 0 -1.825 0 4

M: Matches played

W: Wins

L: Losses

T: Ties

N/R: No results

NRR: Net Run Rate

Ded.: Deductions

PTS: Total points