ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 – Pat Cummins – ‘Nothing more satisfying than hearing a big crowd go silent’

When Yuvraj Singh walloped Brett Lee through the covers to hit the winning runs in the 2011 World Cup quarter-final in Ahmedabad, it brought an end to an era of domination that had spanned nearly 12 years and delivered three back-to-back World Cup wins. Now, 12 years later, Australia return to Ahmedabad to try and cement a legacy of a different kind.

They have been T20 World Cup champions, in 2021, and became Test world champions this year, during which they have also won a Test match in India and retained the Ashes in England. And now, they are on the cusp of an unprecedented sixth World Cup title – no one else has won more than two.

Pat Cummins is thrilled to be in a position to achieve “something special”. Ahead of Sunday’s final against India, he stressed on how winning the World Cup would make it a “career-defining year” for many.

“It’s been a huge year. There are four marquee events. If you have one of those in an off-season, it’s a big off-season. We’ve got four of them,” Cummins said in his press interaction ahead of the final. “So being really proud of all those things [the wins], not only the wins but the guys have spent… for some of the guys, probably spent less than a couple of weeks in their own bed since the end of the Aussie summer.

“One thing that’s stayed consistent has been the morale in the group. The guys have been awesome. They’re so up for every game they play. And to put ourselves in a position [like] this, it would just top off an incredible year and probably a career-defining year that a lot of us will look back on in years to come and be pretty proud of.”

It looked so different six weeks ago when Australia began their World Cup campaign with losses to India and South Africa. In their third, they lost the toss on a slow Lucknow surface and saw Sri Lanka race away to 125 without loss. At that point, Cummins briefly thought they wouldn’t make it too far.

“Absolutely! Yeah! The proposition at that stage was basically we had to be flawless to make it through to the semis,” he said. “And fortunately, we were. But yeah, absolutely, we knew we came up against two very good sides to start off with, but we were off the pace so we knew that we had to change pretty drastically and yeah, glad we did.

“I think one of the pleasing things is I still don’t feel like we’ve played the complete game. Maybe against Netherlands, but outside of that, we probably haven’t. There have been no huge wins. We’ve had to fight for every win, but we’ve found a way to win. And different players have stood up at different times.

“So I think, by taking that confidence, knowing that we don’t have to be at our absolute best to challenge any team, we can find a way through it. Yeah, I’m sure we’ll draw a lot of confidence, all the boys draw a lot of confidence from that going into tomorrow.”

India are on a bull run, undefeated and not pushed too far during the course of the past seven weeks. It’s reminiscent of Australia’s own campaign from 2003, where they beat India in a one-sided final. Cummins isn’t one to live on past glory, though.

“Yeah, I mean, neither player from both sides were there in 2003, so it feels a long time ago,” he said. “But we know it’s going to be a packed house. There’s going to be 130,000 fans here supporting India. So it’s going to be awesome. They’ve been playing really well, undefeated in this tournament. But we know at our best we can give them a good shake. We’ve played them quite a lot over the last couple of years with success, so it’s all building up for a nice final.”

Playing in front of big crowds isn’t that big a deal for most from the current Australian side. From this group, Steven Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Glenn Maxwell were all part of the 2015 final (and Cummins and Mitchell Marsh were in the squad) when Australia beat New Zealand at the MCG in front of over 80,000 fans. And many of them are IPL-experienced too.

In Ahmedabad on Sunday, there are likely to be well over 100,000 fans in, mostly in India’s blue. It can be an intimidating prospect at the best of times. Is this Australia team equipped mentally to be immune to a partisan crowd of this size?

“I mean, potentially. We play over here in India a lot, so the noise is not something new,” Cummins said. “Yeah, I think, on this scale it’s probably bigger than we would have experienced before, but it’s not something totally foreign to what we’ve had before. Everyone deals with it slightly differently. You see Davey [Warner] probably dancing and winning the crowd over [and] other guys just staying in their own bubble – yeah, it should be good.

“I think you’ve got to embrace it. The crowd’s obviously going to be very one-sided but, in sport there’s nothing more satisfying than hearing a big crowd go silent and that’s the aim for us tomorrow. Yeah, you’ve just got to embrace every part of it, every part of a final – even in the lead-up, there’s going to be noise and more people and interest, and you just can’t get overwhelmed.

“You’ve got to be up for it, you’ve got to love it, and just know whatever happens it’s fine, but you just want to finish the day with no regrets.”

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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