Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, and the apathetic shoulders 2023

“Pat Cummins raised his shoulders for the first time throughout the trip on Friday (July 21) at about 2:30 PM. Steve Smith followed suit about three hours later. The same happened with the rest of the Australian team.

This Ashes series has been intriguing for both the Australian captain and vice-captain. They have had their individual highs. Smith scored a century at Lord’s, while Cummins delivered a remarkable performance with figures of 6/91 in the first innings, leading Australia to victory in Edgbaston.

Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, and the apathetic shoulders

Steve Smith and Pat Cummins: Unraveling the Story of Apathetic Shoulders in Cricket

However, their performances came amidst the backdrop of the two most crucial players making a moderate comeback. Four years ago, the Australian team retained the Ashes and hasn’t lost a series in England since 2001, following Cummins and Smith’s tours, making it a tale worthy of a book.

Steve Smith and Pat Cummins: Unraveling the Story of Apathetic Shoulders in Cricket

The chief fast bowler took 19 runs on average for his 29 wickets, while Smith scored 774 runs with an average of 110.57. By pure numerical comparison, no one else has come close to making a similar impact this time. Steve Smith now has an average of 31 in eight innings, with seven of them being below fifty. Meanwhile, Cummins has taken 16 wickets for 33 runs, the highest wicket-taker outside the subcontinent in any series, and one should not forget his economy rate of 4.11.

However, amidst those two overs, when Johnny Bairstow decided to get Cummins out in anger, he never let it overpower him. The stunning six off that over at deep midwicket might have been the first time Cummins bowed his shoulders after becoming captain 18 months ago. A six had already been hit in the previous over, and just before everything ended, he gave Bearsto a few more boundaries. An over ago, James Anderson had moved past Cummins and pulled him for four runs on the front foot. However, there was something about the collision with Bearsto’s bat that made Cummins look more troubled than before. The ball had gone over the Western Stand before it flew back up, making it seem like it had hit harder than it did. It was more than a fightback from one of Australia’s best fast bowlers yet. It was an onslaught.

Cummins’ best gauge of how he felt at that time came from the fact that, as he returned to his mark with only one ball left in the over, the fielders staring in his direction could not draw his attention. There was only one ball left in the over, and some of the Boundary Riders had started walking in. But Cummins looked so unsure about his bowling that he took a few moments to gather himself and set his field. Afterward, he probably delivered his worst ball, a wild bouncer that flew past the leg side and went far away from the batsman and wicketkeeper Alex Carey for four byes.

It was a difficult two days on the field for Cummins

Perhaps the most testing phase of his otherwise impactful captaincy career. When Jack Crawley and Joe Root were at the crease on the second day, they had to struggle to gain control over the proceedings. And a day later, he had to battle even more when Bearsto walked in. A short ball again, one that climbed above the batsman’s height. While Steve Smith well-placed to play it, he had gone a bit too far from his stumps. It meant his attempt to help the ball to fine leg was dangerous. Instead of reaching the top, the ball ended up finding the leg-side catch, just like it happened with Usman Khawaja. Only two balls were required to send another senior Australian batsman back, and Wood needed just two deliveries to send Cummins off. While Smith survived the first ball, he couldn’t connect with a second bad delivery, which Bearsto put away for four runs through cover.

Steve Smith Australian Players Respect Moments for Pat Cummins Win England in Ashes 2023

Despite surviving the end of England’s innings with a smile or two at the end of his final over, Cummins could be seen visibly upset. As he walked back up the stairs to the Australian dressing room, clutching his bat, his intense gaze fixed upon the lush outfield of Old Trafford. He has done this several times in his last 25 innings, extending his innings past 30 balls and then finding a way to get out, which has become a common theme in his current form. As he walked away, staggering, you could see him shaking his shoulders. And the same happened with the rest of the Australian team.

Can the rain save Australia from embarrassment, or will they have to find some way to save this Test and keep the urn away from England? It will be a turnaround of some sort, seeing that neither of their two superstars has come to the party, or that too for an extended period.

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