Pat Cummins called out by commentators after nasty scenes in Boxing Day Test

The Aussie captain left commentators baffled after delaying his declaration on day three of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

Pat Cummins, pictured here alongside Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green.
Pat Cummins has come under fire after leaving an injured Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green out in the middle. Image: Getty

Pat Cummins was called into question by commentators on Wednesday over the timing of his declaration on the third day of the Boxing Day Test. Australia declared at 8-575 (the sixth-highest team score at the MCG ever) before reducing South Africa to 1-15 at stumps.

Australia claimed a first-innings lead of 386 runs, with South Africa still requiring another 371 to make the Aussies bat again. As it turned out they got nowhere near, bowled out for 204 to hand Australia the series victory in an innings and 182-run loss.

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With Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green both battling finger injuries and already ruled out of the third Test at the SCG, Aussie captain Cummins was clearly keen to get as many first innings runs on the board as possible. But commentators were left questioning the logic of his decision to prolong the Aussie innings after Alex Carey reached his maiden Test century, which saw Green and Starc out in the middle for a lengthy period facing a bouncer barrage from the Proteas.

At one stage Starc could be seen mouthing in Cummins' direction "we should be bowling", and the declaration only came after Starc was struck on the helmet by a nasty bouncer. Speaking in commentary for Fox Sports, Kerry O'Keeffe was fearful that Starc or Green would suffer more damage.

“There’s two men with 18 good fingers between them,” he said. “This is an odd period of play here. Lots of short stuff bowling, no attempt to score. Two inconvenient batters. Umpires looking at the light. Something’s got to crack.”

New Zealand commentator Ian Smith said: “I’m sorry guys, but I don’t see the logic in this, I really don’t. Not often you will see a batter mouth or gesture to a captain in the dressing room, ‘we should be bowling skipper’.”

Mark Waugh had earlier questioned why Green came back out to bat after scans revealed he had a broken finger. He said: “If you happen to get another blow on that finger, that could cause real damage.

"I’m surprised he’s come out, I’ve got to say. At 258 runs in front, if he’s just going to defend like this, what’s the point? He can only get hit again.”

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Alex Carey makes history with Boxing Day Test century

Wednesday belonged to Carey, who became the first Aussie wicket-keeper to score a century in a Boxing Day Test. He's also the second Aussie keeper to reach triple figures in a Test at the MCG, with Rod Marsh also achieving the feat but not in a Boxing Day fixture.

Carey was out for 111 off 149 balls just before tea, hitting an easy caught-and-bowled opportunity to Marco Jansen. Speaking after play, Carey said the Aussies wanted as many runs as possible.

"On a wicket where it's going to be tough to take those next nine wickets, it was crucial for us to build as big a lead as possible, let the bowlers put their feet up for a little bit," he said.

Carey paid tribute to Green after his gutsy knock of 51 not out saw him combine with Carey for a 112-run partnership. "I actually didn't think he was going to walk out today," Carey said "But to see him put on a brave face, bat beautifully and allow me at the other end to bat as well, [it] allowed us to put on a really good partnership.

Pat Cummins, pictured here declaring after Australia amassed 8-575 in the Boxing Day Test.
Pat Cummins finally declared after Australia amassed 8-575 in the Boxing Day Test. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

"I think we ebb and flow at times really well. Today it was probably on me to score a bit [and] more on him to grit through, and he did that amazingly.

"I don't really know how to explain it. I think just with certain guys, you have that calmness and confidence. It's been fun so far, and hopefully [we will have] a few more big partnerships."

Starc still opened the bowling even with blood dripping from his badly injured finger. Carey said: "I'm really excited by the way Starcy's bowling with that finger.

"He came in and bowled mid-140s and swung it, so maybe it's a good thing he has a little nick in the digit. The way he's bowling, I don't have too many concerns for this match."

with AAP

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