Is this the IPL or a Sunday park game?
Patrick Cummins was already a highly-touted bowler for Australia following his remarkable debut six years ago but after this most recent tour, his prospects have actually increased.
Cummins might have been the only one to return from South Africa with an enhanced reputation.
He snared wickets by the bucket taking 22 at an average of 21 – just one less than Rabada, who was the highest wicket-taker and Man of the Series.
Both Steve Smith and Tim Paine turned to Cummins whenever they needed a breakthrough and he did not disappoint. He bowled impressively, with his pace not dipping even when returning for late spells at the fag end of the day.
His batting was no less remarkable, as he continued his form with the long handle from the Ashes, providing Australia with much-needed runs with the tail.
Former Proteas skipper Graeme Smith hailed his performances, claiming that he “thoroughly enjoyed watching him throughout the series” and that he “has a wonderful future ahead of him”. High praise indeed, and very much deserved.
While the Australians crumbled mentally, suffering from the aftermath of the ball-tampering scandal, Cummins reached peak form.
Returning to the scene of his storied debut, he took just the second five-wicket haul of his career in the first innings, scored his maiden fifty to help the Aussies recover from 6/97 to a more decent 221, and then claimed 4/58 in South Africa’s 6/344d.
But, due to the nature of the crushing defeat, his performance went understated and underappreciated similar to how he is always overshadowed by his fellow bowlers.
Cummins’ performances were particularly admirable, though, considerably even more than his Ashes wicket showing. In the Ashes, all four bowlers shared more than 20 wickets each.
Here, Cummins was the highest wicket-taker by a mile for Australia. Lyon was neutered successfully as even Dean Elgar, who had fallen to him regularly at the start of the series, started milking him for runs by the end.
Even Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were blunted despite bowling well. Starc only managed to get three more poles in the next two tests after his Man of the Match winning nine-wicket performance in the first.
While everyone was expecting his more experienced teammates to be the ones to watch, Cummins went under the radar and ended up surpassing everyone’s expectations.
Missing six years in between, Pat Cummins has made some huge strides to make up for lost time after returning to Test Cricket in Ranchi last year.
He already has more wickets than Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Shane Warne had at this stage of their careers.
With this successful comeback, he has even jumped to sixth-place on the ICC Test Bowlers rankings. Australia hopes he will be one of the key players to aid them for the next 12 months while they agonise over the lack of their two best batsmen.
Despite being the newbie of the pack through this series, he’s proved himself to be no less fearsome than the rest.
Here’s hoping he continues his incredibly impressive form to become an Australian great.