Tue. Jul 5th, 2022

Pat Cummins’ earliest days as test captain question the potential for him to reach his rightful place on Australia’s list of all-time greats.

Not whether he gets the credit to roll, rather how far he can climb.

Leadership will either make him a more famous champion – like Richie Benaud and Allan Border – or become a burden to lug around with the potential to diminish his average a bit.

So far, so perfect; he is on top of the world.

Right now, the best Cummins comparison to Australian cricket royalty may be the late Alan Davidson AM MBE, whose memorial service was held at SCG fourteen days ago.

Both were born in New South Wales at 64 years of age.

Davidson was an athletic left-arm fast bowler, with high action and a sense of opportunity.

He finished his 44-Test career with 186 wickets averaging 20.53. His best performance was 7-93.

A black and white image of Alan Davidson bowling in the nets in England in 1953.
Davidson was the focal point of the Australian bowling attack for much of his test career.(Getty: S & G / PA Images)

He became the first man to make 100 runs and take 10 wickets in the same match (he did this with a broken finger in the 1960-61 draw test against the West Indies in Brisbane).

“Not bad for a kid who grew up with nothing who came to SCG as a kid to see people like (Don) Bradman and (Sid) Barnes who played a game of rugby league here as a schoolboy and declared there and then his next match be a game of cricket, “wrote journalist Andrew Webster in his new book on SCG, If These Walls Could Talk.

Cummins, now playing his 35th Test, has taken 169 wickets with an average of 21.18. His best return is 6-23 (match count of 10-62).

Like Davidson, he is the type of athlete who could have practiced several high-level sports.

The new skipper is 23rd on the Australian men’s test wicket-taker’s list. He could climb as high as third. He is 28 years old, with only Shane Warne (708) and Glenn McGrath’s (563) career inventories seemingly out of reach.

‘Memories hang on’

Davidson’s record with the bat was better than Cummins’.

In his 61 innings, the all-rounder made 1,328 runs with an average of 24.59.

Cummins has beaten 50 times in tests in 708 races. His batting average of 16.46 is surprisingly low for a player who often seems comfortable as a top-order batter on the fold.

Statistics will only tell you so much.

An Australian bowler pumps his fist as he runs close to an English dough in the first men's Ashes Test at Gabba.
Cummins led by a good example with five wickets in England’s first innings in the initial Ashes Test.(Getty: Chris Hyde)

The best compliment you can give Cummins is to say he treats the game with the same respect that Davidson swore.

“Davo was a great guy,” said sports historian and lead author Ian Heads.

“Games are built around people like him, and the memories hang on.”

The memorial service for Davidson at SCG was attended by masters past and present.

“A lot of things were said about Davo,” Heads said.

“And they were all true.”

Davidson was a fan of the Cummins.

In 2014, the then 85-year-old said: “He has a great future. He is not just a bowler, he can bat well and is extremely good in the field.

“Pat Cummins is a real talent for me, and I think so [ability to bat] will make a hell of a difference in the future.

“His whole career is ahead of him.”

Webster saw similarities between Davidson and Cummins that led him to believe that the latter would be able to handle the pressure of being a test captain.

“I was so lucky to have lunch with them both,” he said.

“I do not think he will be overwhelmed by the workload or the apartment.”

Davidson was inducted into the International Cricket Council Hall of Fame in 2011.

Cummins’ place on all-time lists has an asterisk (* see this field).

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