Sydney: Australia captain Pat Cummins on Tuesday stressed the importance of his team qualifying for this year's ICC World Test Championship final and revealed his excitement to potentially face India in the dream summit clash in London.
Cummins' side currently leads the World Test Championship standings and can confirm their place in June's final with a victory in the third and final Test of their ongoing series against South Africa at the SCG this week. If Australia fail to clinch a series sweep against the Proteas then they still have another chance to book their place in the decider during the four-match Test series in India that commences next month. And it's India that could potentially prove Australia's opponent in June's final, with Rohit Sharma's side well-placed in second place on the standings ahead of the home series against the Aussies during February and March.
Cummins said the prospect of playing a World Test Championship final this year had been a major motivation for his team and the chances of taking on India at a neutral venue has him even more excited.
"It's been a big driver for us over the last couple of years. I think playing in London (in) a final against India, say, at a neutral venue, that's really exciting," Cummins told reporters at the SCG.
Ironically, it was India that Australia was playing at the MCG in 2020 when they were docked four points for a slow over rate and narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2021 World Test Championship final. It meant the Kiwis snuck into the decider and beat India to claim the inaugural World Test Championship title and Cummins said the importance of keeping an eye on how quickly his team bowls their overs is always at the forefront of his mind.
"It was still a new concept so even things like over rates - it wasn't really spoken about as importantly as perhaps what we think about it now," Cummins noted.
"Every point is vital. (Now there is) lots of communication with the umpires, they are always keeping us abreast of where we are. I think we got down to nine minutes down at one stage (in a recent Test match) so we just made sure we had Trav Head or 'Smithy' (Steve Smith) as an option and we got back basically within a couple of overs.
Having just missed out on the World Test Championship final last cycle, that was always going to be a big goal," he added. And on current form, it appears that spot in the final should be a foregone conclusion, with Australia having won all four of their home Tests against the West Indies and South Africa so far this summer.
"I think we've been playing fantastically, we've put ourselves in that position to earn that spot early which is a huge driver for us," the Australian skipper said.
"It's always exciting going to England and playing an Ashes series, but adding in a World Test Championship final (prior to the Ashes) is huge," he added.—IANS