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Australia captain Steve Smith has admitted that he is looking forward to seeing how pace bowler Pat Cummins fares during the national team’s upcoming four-Test tour of South Africa.
Cummins is coming off a spectacular summer at home, where he was the leading wicket-taker in the Ashes series against England as he took 23 wickets at an average of 24.65.
With Cummins having got through the summer unscathed and without succumbing to an injury, Smith is hoping that the 24-year-old will maintain his momentum when Australia clash with the Proteas.
Smith added Cummins’ Test debut came against South Africa in November 2011 and he took seven wickets in the match, six of which came in the second innings. As a result, the Baggy Greens won the match by two wickets and Cummins was named Man of the Match.
“Six-and-a-half years ago Pat made his Test debut in South Africa, and made an immediate impact on Test cricket because he’s an exceptional talent,” Smith wrote in his column for Fox Sports. “He’s had a tough time with injuries since then but, after a pretty intense summer of cricket, is in a really good place both mentally and with his body.
“He’s really excited to have been able to get through the whole summer, having never gone through a full season before and playing in back-to-back Tests — so to get through five and play the way he did was pretty special.
“As we saw in the Ashes, Pat is able to switch it on in key moments. His batting has been incredibly valuable — particularly in the first two Test matches where the 40s he got were so crucial to the end result in the Ashes.
“He’s a great talent and he’s just going to better and better the more he plays — and we all can’t wait to see how he goes in this series.”
Smith also revealed that he is extremely determined to beat South Africa in front of their home fans as they did the same thing to Australia when they toured the country in 2016.
Admitting that the 2-1 loss was a bitter pill to swallow, Smith wrote: “We’re less than a fortnight away from the first Test against South Africa in Durban, and there’s no denying it: I’d love to get South Africa back for them beating us at home in 2016.
“That tough series was a low point in Australian cricket, and from a personal point of view it was an important moment in shaping me as a captain.
“And that’s why it’s such a huge series for myself and quite a few members of this team, and I’d love to turn the tide and win that series in Africa.
“We know as a team that we played really well throughout the summer and produced some great Test cricket to win the Ashes — but good teams aren’t made off of one good series.
“They do it day in and day out. And in particular they do it away from home. It’s a challenge that all teams around the world face. Everyone plays really well at home and not so well away.
“This is our opportunity to hopefully turn that around and hopefully play some really good cricket and play well in Africa.”