Cummins says WTC final, Ashes can secure legacy for Australia
June 6, 2023 09:14 PM
Australia captain Pat Cummins said on Tuesday the World Test Championship final against India and the subsequent Ashes tour of England will define his side's place in cricket history.
Cummins' men face India in just the second WTC final at the Oval starting on Wednesday, the first of six Tests in eight weeks, including a five-match Ashes series.
New Zealand beat India in the inaugural 2021 WTC final in Southampton, while it is 22 years since Australia last won an Ashes campaign in England.
"Whether we like it or not, these big series are where you look back at eras of cricket teams and judge their performances," Cummins told reporters at the Oval.
"That's an exciting opportunity for us.... No doubt this will be the last Ashes away tour for a lot of the guys."
The 30-year-old fast bowler added: "Missing the first one (WTC final), this second one feels like it is a bit more significant. It is the only trophy that Australian cricket hasn't won."
This week's match takes place against a backdrop of fears over the future of Test cricket during the growth of global franchise Twenty20 tournaments.
But Cummins said he wished the final, the culmination of a two-year programme, would strengthen the place of the WTC in cricket's congested international calendar.
"I hope this week shows that it does work," said the skipper. "Every day is a sell-out. I just had a meeting where they said it will be the most-watched Test ever played.
"So hopefully this event is a real event that is here to stay."
The WTC final will be Australia's only match in England before next week's first Ashes Test at Edgbaston after officials ditched fixtures against county sides that have traditionally been a part of the tour programme.
Cummins, however, was adamant the final was a key game in itself and not merely a warm-up for the Ashes.
"It's absolutely an event," he said.
"It feels like it is the bookend of the past two years' campaign.
"We have played great cricket over that campaign, and after this Test match it means nothing. We start again, starting with a series that doesn't get much bigger than an Ashes away series.
"It does feel like a final."
India have yet to name their team but Australia have confirmed that seamer Scott Boland will play.
Josh Hazlewood has been ruled out of the final with a side injury and that left Boland and Michael Neser, a late call-up to the squad after impressing for Glamorgan in England's County Championship, competing for a place.
Australia, however, have stuck with Boland, who enjoyed a stunning international debut during the 2021/22 Ashes, with his return of 6-7 in Melbourne helping seal a series win.
The 34-year-old has now taken 28 wickets in seven Tests at a remarkably low average of 13.42.
"Someone like Scotty, it's just a really simple game plan -- you hit your good areas and you stay there all day and hopefully the ball will do the work for you," said Cummins.