Pat Cummins' decision to declare 22 runs short of the West Indies' first innings total has been called out as Australia have come under scrutiny for rotating their bowlers on and off the field in a tactical loophole. The West Indies left the cricket world in awe having secured their first Test win in Australia since 1997 to finish the series 1-1.
Cummins and his men were left reeling at the Gabba after Shamar Joseph ripped through the Australian batting line-up with seven wickets to also take home the player of the series honour. Steve Smith lasted the whole innings as opener as he returned to form with the bat, but it wasn't enough as the Aussie tail couldn't hold off the firing West Indies attack.
'NOT GOOD ENOUGH': Steve Smith under fire despite heroic innings
From 2-113 Australia lost 8-94, with Cameron Green (42), Travis Head (0), Mitch Marsh (10), Alex Carey (2), Mitchell Starc (21) and Cummins (2) all dismissed in an incredible 10-over spell. And after the eight-run loss, Cummins' bold decision in the first innings has come under fire.
On Friday, Cummins charged off the field at 9-289 to signal his team's declaration. Australia were still 22 runs behind the West Indies with Cummins smacking the bowling attack around the oval. But Cummins was keen to give his bowlers an opportunity to take a few wickets under the lights with the pink ball.
Cummins was rewarded with Mitchell Starc taking a wicket before the end of play. However, while many were praising the Aussie captain at the time of the declaration - with rain also forecasted during the Test - his decision has now come under fire.
Many fans questioned the move at the time with Cummins piling on the runs having recorded his highest ever individual score. While others feel Cummins wasn't solely to blame with the Australian batters not getting the job done at home in the last innings.
Hmmm. That declaration by Pat Cummins. A good or bad decision? #AUSvsWI
— JAKE FLAGPIES23 🏆🖤🤍 (@IncrediblyBozza) January 28, 2024
If Australia won, the declaration would’ve been heralded as an incredible decision. Pat Cummins needs to take responsibility for that loss.
On a better note, West Indies, just WOW!!!#AUSvsWI
— Keshav Arjun Singh (@imArjunKesh) January 28, 2024
Imagine if Australia loses this one..then people will remember the declaration by Pat Cummins in the 1st innings especially when they were 22 runs short .
— Jai (@_Jaikaal) January 28, 2024
That declaration is going to haunt Cummins. #AusvsWI
— Abhishek Zagade (@AbhishekZagade7) January 28, 2024
Despite the decision, Cummins will be ruing his team's inability to chase down the target of 216. Travis Head recorded a pair of ducks, while only Smith and Cameron Green managed to score over 40 runs in the final innings.
"You've got to find a way to get yourself into your innings and I'm sure a couple of batters will look at a couple of ways they were dismissed," Cummins said after play. "They outplayed us, they played brilliantly. There was a lot of the talk coming in about their debutants ... but they've created a couple of new superstars we didn't know about.
"As a cricket fan, a Test match cricket fan, there's a part of me that was happy to watch." While Cummins and his men will be left to look at how they let the Test match slip away, the team has also come under fire for another tactic used in the hot weather.
Aussie bowlers rotate in controversial move
On Saturday, viewers noticed the Australian bowlers taking to the crease in short three over spells, but then heading off the ground for a break. The conditions at the Gabba were sweltering - especially on Saturday when the temperature hit 34C - and the bowlers were seen taking breaks. This allows the sub-fielder to take the field.
After some questioning, Cricket Australia confirmed what the players were doing when off the field. "The bowlers come in and sit under the air conditioner and fan. They change clothing. Icepacks on the neck and shoulders. Get a crushed ice drink. They can shower too," a statement said. However, this hasn't gone down well with the cricket purists.
Phil Jaques questions sub-fielder rotation
Former opener Phil Jaques claimed he understands that players need to take a break if it's to change their shirt or run to the toilet, but if it's also giving them a competitive advantage it may not be ideal. "I'm not sure that's right," he said on ABC Radio. "To sit in front of the fan doesn't feel like it's in the interests of the game."
And SEN Radio host Adam White agreed with Jacques and said cricket is a tough mental and physical game of attrition. “In my view, cricket is a summer sport, particularly here in Australia, it gets hot, you’re going to get hot,” White said on the Final Word Pod.
“For me, cricket is a game of attrition, you should have to stay out, you can’t come off and have a bit of a rest… part of Test cricket is what happens over the course of five days, you get hot, you get tired...This coming off and having a rest, I’m not saying it’s not in the spirit of the game but I’m almost saying it is not in the spirit of the game. I feel you should be staying out there and putting up with the heat.”
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