Pampered or perceptive: Pat Cummins is happy with the Australia's new bowler rotation system. Photo: AFP
AS FORMER fast bowler Geoff Lawson expressed astonishment that team selections would be based on sports science, pace prodigies James Pattinson and Pat Cummins backed Cricket Australia's plan to rotate its young quicks through Test matches.
Cummins, who does not think he yet commands a place in Australia's best Test attack, and Pattinson each said they felt their long-term welfare was at the heart of CA's policy.
Debate about how Australia handles its exciting young quicks resurfaced after CA said it had information from sports scientists to indicate Pattinson would break down during last summer's Sydney Test against India, but weighed the data against Pattinson's match-winning potential and took the risk.
The intention was to rest Pattinson for the next Test in Perth but he ended up missing two months of cricket with a foot injury. Coach Mickey Arthur explained this week that Cummins, Pattinson and Mitchell Starc would be rested when their bowling workloads indicated they were in the danger zone for getting injured.
Lawson's comments illustrate the divide between the old fast bowling fraternity, which preaches constant bowling to steel young bodies for Tests, and newer, science-based theories on workload management.
''I am astonished that the coach would base team selections on what a sports scientist says,'' said Lawson. ''It seems to me that they just want them to rest all the time when they should be bowling in club cricket and state cricket, and instead they're in the nets at the Centre of Excellence. Last year when they picked Cummins I said it was too early, he hadn't played enough cricket and, guess what?, he lasted one Test match.''
Cummins, the 19-year-old who made a thrilling Test appearance against South Africa last November, said he was keen to build up his resilience and first-class experience, which stands at four matches.
''It's the toughest cricket, first class, and I haven't bowled with a red ball for the last year so it's been a while and I'm itching to get back there. I love bowling 20 overs in a day and trying to swing the ball and getting into the contest,'' Cummins said. ''You never know what's going to happen with injuries or form so I guess I've got to get out there whether it's Ryobi or shield or Australia and try to take wickets and play well.''
Cummins said the rotation plan was ''a good thing''.
''There's a few young people who are at risk of injury so the aim is to try to keep us all on the park,'' he said.
''It's probably going to be tough to take if one of us gets a man-of-the-match [award] and has to miss the next game. But it's good that they're looking after us.''
Pattinson, 22, also backed the plan to rotate the young bowlers.
''We do have a plan for the 12 months coming up … and hopefully it goes to plan, but it's in place and they are looking after us,'' he said. ''I can definitely see where they're coming from. As a fast bowler you don't want to miss games but there's so much cricket all over the world now. We are a pretty young bowling side and we don't want to get burnt out too early. As much as we want to play we do listen to them, they really have us in their best interests.
''The way they are doing it now is very good and that will hold us in good stead come three or four years once we reach that age of 25 and our bodies are more mature.''