Pat Cummins’ overnight Ashes heroics caught the attention of many back home in Australia, including the prime minister, who hailed the Test captain as a “legend and a great Australian” after guiding his side to a famous victory in Birmingham with a nerveless batting performance.
Cummins came to the crease on the final day of play in the first Test at Edgbaston with Australia needing 72 runs to win, but with just three wickets in hand. The match was still finely poised, although England certainly had the edge.
Then Cummins took matters into his own hands, going after the bowling of Joe Root and hitting two sixes in an over that reaped 14 runs, alongside Nathan Lyon.
The pair dug in with a gutsy display of tail-end batting, completing their unlikely run chase just before 4:30am on the eastern Australian seaboard. Cummins, in his first Ashes Test in England as captain, ended unbeaten on 44, and Lyon chipped in with 16 not out in an invaluable partnership of 55.
“Today in workplaces around Australia there will be a few yawns, I suspect, because overnight there was quite a remarkable result in one of the greatest Test matches of all time,” Anthony Albanese said.
“And to our captain Patrick Cummins, what a remarkable show of leadership. I think one of the best things about it was the fact that they smiled all the way through. They enjoyed it so much and it was as if there was no pressure whatsoever.
“He is a legend and a great Australian on and off the field. Pat Cummins represents his nation on and off the field with dignity and commitment, and we are very proud of him and the entire team today.”
The prime minister also paid his dues to man-of-the-match Usman Khawaja, who compiled 206 runs over the course of the match, including a brilliant first-innings 141. The opener was also labelled a “great Australian” by Albanese, whose local club, Randwick Petersham, Khawaja played for.
Albanese said he has been in communication with his opposite number in the UK, Rishi Sunak, who had sent a message of congratulations. Albanese conveyed to him that in employing Bazball, England played with “courage and conviction” and “showed the sort of spirit and sportsmanship which their team is certainly known for”.
“We look forward to a great series,” Albanese said. “This has been an extraordinary beginning and we look forward to the next four Tests.”