Cummins hoping schedule clears for a Big Bash return
Star bowler has played just one BBL match in the past three years and knows it will again be a juggling act to play all formats in a COVID-19 affected calendar
21 May 2020, 03:24 PM AEST
Australia's pace spearhead Pat Cummins says he'd "love" to be part of the KFC BBL this summer for the landmark tenth season of the Twenty20 tournament.
But the world's No.1 ranked Test bowler will bide his time until the summer schedule becomes clearer, with the COVID-19 virus causing uncertainty about how much – and when – cricket will be played.
Cummins has played just one match for the Sydney Thunder in the past three seasons, taking 2-28 and striking a quick-fire 10 to steer them to a four-wicket win over the Hobart Hurricanes in a player-of-the-match performance at Manuka Oval in February 2019.
Cummins was uncontracted last summer due to his international commitments, but says he's keen to return this season as league officials look to get more involvement from Australia's international stars.
"It's a great tournament, I'd love to be a part of it again, I love watching it even when I'm not playing," Cummins told cricket.com.au this week.
"We'll wait and see how the schedule comes up.
"In the last couple of years the international schedule has been so busy, so rather than sneak in a couple of Big Bash games, it's more important to have a week or two rest at the end of a long Test summer heading into our overseas tours."
Cricket Australia's top priority for the summer is the Border-Gavaskar Test series against India that would pit two of Test cricket’s heavyweights against each other.
Hosting the T20 World Cup, a Test against Afghanistan and white-ball games against India (home) and New Zealand (home and away) are also on the ICC's Future Tour Programme for this summer, but some games may be in doubt due to the fallout from the health pandemic.
Australia's most high-profile three-format players such as Cummins, Steve Smith and David Warner are also waiting for this year's IPL to be rescheduled after it was postponed indefinitely in April due to the virus.
A return to South Africa looms in February for Australia's first Test tour of the Rainbow Nation since the ball-tampering nadir in 2018, while a backlog of rescheduled ODI and T20 matches against the Black Caps and the postponed two-Test tour of Bangladesh also need to be squeezed into the schedule.
The uncertainty surrounding the T20 World Cup could also influence decision-making for Cummins and other internationals like Warner, Smith and Mitch Starc when it comes to the BBL.
While the tournament currently remains scheduled for an October-November timeslot, the logistical and biosecurity challenges involved in staging a 16-team tournament in the current environment has led to suggestions it could be pushed to the back end of the Australian summer, which would make the BBL a more attractive option for international-calibre players as a prelude to the World Cup.
The International Cricket Council will meet this month to consider the fate of the tournament.
Warner has joined Cummins in saying he will make any decision on the BBL once the international schedule becomes clear, and reflected on how his last appearance in the T20 tournament way back in 2013-14 temporarily derailed his Test cricket.
"All my decisions are based around how much playing and touring I'm doing in the summer," Warner said of his Big Bash options.
"When I last played a game, my mindset in the next two Tests was cluttered between playing and not playing shots.
"I know that's how I play but I've reined it in a lot over the last few years and don't want to be putting myself into a situation again where I'm playing a Test match and then a T20 and then Tests again a few days later.
"I just want to have that one rhythm going into it.
"It would be easy to sit here now and say 'Yes, I'd like to play' but I have to see what is happening at the end of the year. I'll have to have a hard think about it depending on the schedule."
Warner had hit centuries in the first and third Ashes Tests of that whitewash summer before scoring 50 from 31 balls for the Sydney Thunder in a one-off appearance. In the final two Tests of the summer, he did not pass 25.
Creating a window in January for Australia's international stars to play in the BBL has been reported to be among options raised for consideration by the independent report on the state of the game prepared for Cricket Australia by former television sport executive Dave Barham.