Before the West Indies, all of a sudden became a new-sounding entity, called the Windies, they used to be a side that defended modest team scores with the same ease it takes a child to pop a candy into the mouth.
With Ambrose and Walsh at the helm of causing red-ball devastation and Lara and Shiv unifying abilities in the middle, even at the onset of their downward spiral, the West Indies continued to live another day.
Then, with Walsh and Ambrose’ departure, there came a time where the team became a frail shadow of its former self.
But, without sounding overly optimistic, if you happen to look at the current West Indies pace-line up, you’d arrive at a few realisations. It’s for the first time in years together, that the team looks sorted and capable of asking questions of their opponents.
A young man comes into his own
In Shannon Gabriel, the West Indies have found a pace tearaway, who’s nicely keeping fit and meeting the rigours of Test Cricket.
Over the course of the past four years or so, the West Indies have been able to play some hard-fought competitive cricket.
And much of their victories apart from the changing forms of Shai Hope and Roston Chase tied with the stability lent by Kraigg Brathwaite rests on the efforts of Shanon Gabriel and Kemar Roach.
Kemar Roach, who also throws his bat at everything is back at rattling batsmen. One saw the menacing and cold welcome the West Indians extended to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka when they came calling.
But was it all because of Gabriel and Roach alone?
It was as if, the mere intent of the tourists to descend in the great land of the Malcolm Marshall, Wes Hall, Joel Garner and Curtly Ambrose was a plan hatched in hell.
The Lankans, first up, and later, the Bangladeshis, were unwelcomed of sorts. From what one saw at North Sound when Bangladesh made morose headlines for being 43 all-out, it seemed the current side was hardly the West Indies one was used to seeing.
Implicit in concocting that disaster for Bangladesh was an earnest young fast-bowler from Barbados, Miguel Cummins. It’s rather sad and surprising that how little is remembered of the young 27-year-old’s efforts against a side that featured Tamim Iqbal, Shakib al Hassan, and Mushfiqur Rahim at Antigua.
It’s even strange that while understandably so, Roach, who in the wake of his 5 for 8, triggered a collapse, Cummins who removed the dangerous Liton Das and the two Hasans- Nurul and Mehidy- possibly didn’t get the due he deserved.
Not that the young fellow would’ve minded that one bit. Not that it brought curtains to hailing his efforts altogether.
He’d come back again in the second innings to remove 2 wickets again. While Roach was justifiably the man of the match, the moments of the match, at least, some precious ones, belonged to Miguel Cummins.
But what Miguel Cummins- a bowler of few words but many imposing short deliveries- proved was that he too could contribute to his team, besides the experienced Roach and the widely regarded Gabriel.
While in a Test career that’s only just begun, some of the finest highs for Cummins seem embedded in the future, his recent performances are worthy of respect.
A pleasant run so far for Miguel Cummins
In New Zealand, the only mighty overseas tour of his hitherto, 13-Test journey, he picked an impressive 7 wickets at the Kiwi-land where bowlers didn’t live a day longer than the commanding hold of Kiwi batsmen, Guptill, Nicholls, Grandhomme, and Munro being at their best.
What’s most impressive about Miguel Cummins, apart from the Bajan possessing a profound love for Tests- a rare facet for youngsters his age- is that tricky ability to combine pace with bounce.
Most top-rated fast bowlers either wither away batsmen with clever bouncers or, unfurl weaklings in their techniques by testing them through severe pace.
Miguel Cummins, who’s just turned 27 and hasn’t yet fully-established himself as a vital asset having just begun, depends on his bouncers that uncannily combine pace and genuinely short-pitched stuff.
He tested Kohli, asked questions to Pujara and nearly got Rahane out twice in the same inning, at Jamaica, in 2016, on his wicket-less debut.
For a bowler who presents a genuine throwback the imposing presence of a Curtly Ambrose, there’s a quick evidence of disgust on the Bajan’s face upon delivering a really poor bowl. He can be seen kicking himself in the dirt.
That, according to the cricketing lexicon, a great sign in a bowler who pushes himself.
What remains to be seen about Miguel Cummins?
Surely, the disappointments such as being dropped, being clobbered for runs and being treated like an infant in front of punishing blades on home turfs aren’t a phenomenon that has struck the lanky fast bowler yet.
It will be interesting to see how Cummins would then forge a comeback once struck by poor form and indifferent spells, something he has avoided and hasn’t been struck with, to the end of his own bowling passion.
But from what’s been seen in Miguel Cummins- with best bowling figures of 6 for 48- it appears that there’s the heart to bowl the long mile for his team.
It also puts him in an interesting league that he’s already had a useful experience of bowling quick and consistently so for Worcestershire, in the only English county experience he’s fetched, so far.
Can the young, driven Miguel Cummins to make a remarkable career of his own? Surely, the captain Holder and his folks in the pace battery would like to invest in him as a potential, developing match-winner.