'If Australia had lost, everyone would've been questioning his tactics' - Hussain on Pat Cummins
Pat Cummins aced the pressure game and propelled Australia past the clutter in the most thrilling Test match finish for the Ashes 2023 opener in Edgbaston. The skipper and modern-day pace giant stood resurrected with his declining batting game for the second time in the close-fought Test match and produced a magnificent 44 not out to help the Aussies overhaul the tricky 281-run target.
On a track which slowed down to a significant degree and run-making, particularly against the straight ball, was a strenuous task, Cummins stitched a memorable 55-run stand for the ninth wicket with the resolute Nathan Lyon, who contributed a priceless 16* to the winning cause as the visitors pulled off a brilliant heist.
Noting how the Australian captain led his troops from the front when the chips were down at 227/8, with England firm favourites to take a 1-0 series lead, former English skipper turned commentator Nasser Hussain applauded the exceptional cricketer but also stood wary of the criticism that may have arrived at his doorsteps if the result was different.
Hussain said Pat Cummins would've come up for heavy naysaying for his astute defensive fields in the England third-innings if he had failed to take his team home on the final day.
Hussain on Cummins after Australia's perfect Ashes heist
Cummins had shrewdly kept an in-and-out field to ensure the run-flow was in control and Australia could maintain some sense of leash on aggressive English batters when they came out playing the counter-attacking game on Day 4 of the Test.
With England only 35 ahead and two down on the board, Joe Root and Harry Brook stuck to the 'Bazball' route and tried to take the fight back to Australia. It was at that moment Cummins opted for defensive field settings and boundary riders and helped his bowlers not lose the plot in the face of the opposition assault.
"To be able to hang in there when England played the way they did, Joe Root scooping him and him having to set fields to counteract it, was a mark of him as both a cricketer and character," wrote Hussain in his column for the Daily Mail, who has been at the receiving end of retrospective criticism himself during his captaincy days.
"The criticism he faced for adopting defensive fields, the ability to soak all of that up, and then on the fifth evening come out with 72 runs needed and bat in such a clinical manner was exceptional."
"If Australia had lost, everyone would've been questioning his tactics, and his captaincy for being too defensive. He wins, and it's genius. That's pretty much international captaincy = if you win, you get back to all the decisions that you make, and if things go against you, then people pick them apart," he added.