Sport Cricket The Ashes: The moment Kim Hughes knew Australia had a genuine all-rounder

The Ashes: The moment Kim Hughes knew Australia had a genuine all-rounder

Pat Cummins
Pat Cummins' 42 was crucial for Australia. Photo: Getty
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I know a 10-wicket win suggests an absolute thumping but it is important to remember England was right in the first Ashes Test for much of the game.

The bad news for the visitors is that Steve Smith’s side can only get better.

Smith’s innings in Brisbane was out of this world. It was one of the all-time great captain’s knocks – and not just in Ashes cricket.

His discipline with the bat was first class and the match could have been so different if he went cheaply, given the predicament Australia found itself in at 4-76 in response to England’s 302.

A key figure in Smith’s tremendous innings was the bloke at the other end, Pat Cummins.

I remember working with Pat on his batting at Cricket Australia’s Centre of Excellence a few years ago, feeding balls in through a bowling machine. He immediately struck me as someone who could bat.

He played the ball beautifully off the back foot – something lots of batsmen struggle with these days – and looked so natural.

I was immediately impressed and told Greg Chappell as much.

Chappell responded with just two words: “Keith Miller”.

Miller, of course, was a legendary all-rounder for Australia and I have no doubt Cummins can be a genuine all-rounder himself.

I can see him moving up the order – he is big, strong and hits the ball so well.

Another Aussie deserving special praise for his first Test effort is Nathan Lyon. He produced a world-class bowling performance and is miles ahead of his England counterpart, Moeen Ali. There’s just no comparison.

Lyon kept it tight and remained threatening, even when he wasn’t getting wickets, before swinging the match in Australia’s favour on day four.

Nathan Lyon Australia
Nathan Lyon took five wickets in the Gabba opener. Photo: Getty

I’m also thrilled for Shaun Marsh, who made important runs at an important time – particularly seeing as Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh and Callum Ferguson all made big scores in the Sheffield Shield.

England has put itself under the pump even more after the whole Jonny Bairstow/Cameron Bancroft incident.

I really admire Bairstow. I played with his father and am a big fan of his.

But given the ongoing investigations into Ben Stokes’ off-field conduct, England needed this like a hole in the head.

When the news broke on Sunday night after a particularly tough day, Joe Root must have thought: “How else can we stuff this up?”

I hope it doesn’t detract too much from what was a really interesting Test match.

Yes, the run rate wasn’t that high, but that shouldn’t matter. It was riveting cricket.

England has said Bairstow will avoid punishment and that’s a good thing for the tourists, who could have easily won the first Test if Stokes was playing and things went their way.

He would have made such a big difference with bat and ball.

England’s tail looked like rabbits in the headlights against the short ball and they can be sure to get more of it this summer.

The Aussie attack will be licking their chops with what they saw, which was uncomfortable tailenders who didn’t know what to do.

England struggled to support Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad with the ball, too.

Both bowled particularly well, I thought, but they just didn’t get enough support. Jake Ball and Chris Woakes lacked penetration and weren’t threatening.

I’m convinced Australia will get better as the series goes but England can at least take heart that the next Test will be played under lights in Adelaide.

Luck will play a big role. We’ve seen how difficult it is to bat at night against the pink ball.

So if a couple of things go England’s way, and Anderson and Broad get some support, it might be able to get a result.

Right now, Adelaide seems England’s best chance of winning a Test this series.

Former Australia captain Kim Hughes played 70 Test matches and 97 one-day internationals for his country.

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