Cummins accidentally revives sandpaper saga in describing Aussie team’s new attitude

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Test skipper Pat Cummins could have chosen his words perhaps a little better when he said the Australian team not been “as abrasive” since the infamous sandpaper ball-tampering scandal in 2018.

Australia will take on South Africa in the Test arena for the first time since that infamous incident more than four years ago at Cape Town when they lock horns at the Gabba on Saturday.

Cummins believes the approach of the Australia team has changed tack markedly over the intervening four-and-a-half years. 

“I don’t think we’re probably as abrasive as we’ve been in the past … it’s working for us,” Cummins said with an unintended pun.

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“How we are off the field is pretty similar to what we play on the field – calm, very chill, just enjoying it out there, really competitive. 

Pat Cummins of Australia celebrates his 200th Test wicket.

Pat Cummins of Australia celebrates his 200th Test wicket. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

“We’ve done that really well over the last 12 months. Whatever gets thrown at us won’t change that.”

Cummins has confirmed he will return from a quad injury to captain Australia, replacing luckless Queenslander Michael Neser is the only change to the Australian XI from the 419-run thumping of West Indies last week.

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The 29-year-old missed the Adelaide Test for the second year in a row after hurting himself against the Windies in Perth.

But Cummins has looked back to his normal self during bowling drills over the three days Australia have had in Brisbane leading up to the start of the eagerly anticipated first Test on Saturday.

“I feel great,” Cummins said on Friday. “I feel as fresh as I’ve ever been going into a Test series. I’m totally 100 per cent, had a couple of bowls and I’m ready to go.”

The Gabba traditionally has one of the more pace-friendly pitches in world cricket and curators have once again produced a track full of grass coverage.

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The sight of a potential green monster will excite both bowling attacks, with some of Test cricket’s top pacemen set to feature.

“A couple of the boys said it’s similar to what they’ve seen here in the past,” Cummins said. “It looks like there’s a bit of grass. So we’ll see how it looks (at the toss, before making a decision).

“It always looks pretty green here a couple of days out, then on the morning of day one it looks a bit different.”

AUSTRALIA: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (capt), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland.

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