Pat Cummins has urged his team not to pick on-field fights but is demanding a ruthless edge back where it really matters.
And he’s backing David Warner to provide it.
Australia’s 47th Test captain admits he doesn’t know when he’ll mark out his run out before play now he’s required at the coin toss, but the history-making skipper is resolute on the game plan he wants his team to adhere to.
Cummins doesn’t want a return to the ugly sledging which has dominated past Ashes series on Australian soil, but wants them to inflict pain on England in the facet of the game that hurts and intimidates visiting teams the most — and that is the scoreboard.
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Warner was silenced by England’s Stuart Broad on the 2019 Ashes in the UK, but Cummins has declared his veteran opening batsman is the man to lead the charge at the Gabba.
“It’s something we’ve spoken about. If you look back to the 2017-18 Ashes here in Australia, our batters were incredibly ruthless,” Cummins said.
“You know, 500-600 runs and I think at the WACA we got close to 700 runs. We were incredibly relentless with the bat.
“At times (since) I think we’ve probably declared just a little bit short of what we would have liked in ideal situations and let the other team into the game. It’s a big focus for our batting group this summer.”
Broad got Warner’s number seven times in the Ashes two years’ ago in England, and their battle will be the centrepiece of the first Test.
Warner is fresh from rediscovering his mojo at the Twenty20 World Cup and Cummins believes he can once again set the tone for Australia’s performance as the batsman bowlers fear most.
“I don’t look at his series record over in England as a great look into this summer,” said Cummins.
“Totally different conditions and it’s really tough for opening batters over in England.
“He came back a couple of months later (2019-20) and had his best summer yet for Australia against New Zealand and Pakistan and the way he really took it to the attack and batted long times was a huge reason why we won all those Tests that summer.
“I’d love to see him have a similar impact this summer.
“I know bowling to him in the nets, he is one of those batters that I feel like if you get it just wrong he can really make you pay. And that’s a daunting prospect for any bowler when he’s on.
“He’s a huge player for us. He’s been great for over a decade for Australia so I would expect he’d be in for a big summer.”
Cummins has played in Australian teams at opposite ends of the Richter scale in terms of sledging.
There has been the super aggressive approach in Ashes series past, including the 4-1 triumph in Australia in 2017-18.
But then the following summer in the wake of Sandpapergate, Australia were forced to become choir boys on the field as they went about trying to rebuild their broken reputation.
Cummins doesn’t want ugly spot fires breaking out at the Gabba for no reason, but also understands that getting hot under the collar is part of the high stakes battle that is the Ashes.
“It’s something I don’t think I’ll be intervening in first-up until we see a problem,” he said.
“I want to make sure everyone does what they do best and don’t get caught up in too much unneeded fighting. I don’t think you need to go out to pick fights.
“I’m a big believer in concentrating on your own game, making sure that’s in order. Getting ourselves up and not getting too caught up in what the opposition is doing.
“Hopefully I’ll be sticking to that and I’ll be encouraging teammates to do that but this is Test cricket, there’s going to be some heated moments. We’ll keep everyone in check. The last few years has put everyone on notice so I don’t think you’ll see too many people getting out of line.”