We've played enough cricket, we'll brush this one off: Cummins

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'It's one of the games you look at and everyone thinks you could have done something just a little bit different' ~ Cummins
'It's one of the games you look at and everyone thinks you could have done something just a little bit different' ~ Cummins © Getty

The 2023 Ashes has seen history being invoked at different points in its runtime. It was Edgbaston 2005 all over again when Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon sneaked the visitors over the line in the first Test. When Lyon hobbled off the field at Lord's with a calf tear, there were throwbacks to Glenn McGrath's injury that played a role in turning the course of that 2005 series. This week at Headingley, both sets of players revisited events from the corresponding Test match four years ago and how Ben Stokes' heroic fourth-innings 135* kept the Ashes alive.

After Australia's lead was halved following another Headingley win for England, Cummins wouldn't be overly perturbed at history repeating itself in Leeds as long as the series continued along a similar path in the following Test at Old Trafford. For the Stokes-engineered heist had little effect the following week in 2019 as Australia calmly bounced back to register a thumping 185-run victory in Manchester, win that ensured the famous urn wouldn't leave their grasp.

The similarities notwithstanding, the circumstances of the two defeats in Leeds couldn't be more different. First of all, the personnel involved - playing and coaching staff - for the visitors are different. Then there's the fact that Australia hadn't reached a position in this Headingley Test anywhere close to the level of dominance they'd enjoyed four years ago before being swept away by the Stokes wave.

Although Cummins' side held sway for a good portion of the first innings, this Test had more of an ebb-and-flow to it before culminating in England's narrow victory on Sunday. "It does," Cummins said, when asked if the defeat felt different to the shock the dressing room was left with four years ago. "It wasn't one big partnership (Stokes-Jack Leach).

"I think this game ebbed and flowed the whole way through, whereas that one in 2019 we were ahead for most of it. We're all kind of used to it - playing cricket there's normally a winner and a loser. We've had a wonderful run up until now, winning the first three matches this tour [including the WTC Final against India].

"It's a shame, and it's one of the games you look at and everyone thinks you could have done something just a little bit different that might have contributed to a different result. But we've all played enough cricket, so [we will] brush this one off and make sure we get ready for Manchester," he said.

Stokes, obviously thrilled at the outcome, was himself unwilling to buy into the concept of having snatched the proverbial momentum for the remainder of the series. "I remember going to Manchester in 2019 and actually saying the complete opposite," the England captain said. "I said we had to park everything that happened at Headingley, all the noise that was around that game.

"We got over the line but we know the job at hand and what's in front of us is way more important than what's been said, and what's been done. And it will be the same again in Manchester, albeit after another great game of cricket and we've kept the series at 2-1. We just have to park everything from this week but also continue in the way in which we play because I said last week at Lord's, we find ourselves in the perfect position for the way we play cricket."

Meanwhile, the Australian captain will have to ponder over selection matters when the squad regroups next week in Manchester. Mitchell Marsh, playing a Test after four years, scored a fine century on the opening day but realises there is spot for just the one all-rounder in the XI with incumbent Cameron Green likely to return after missing out in Leeds with a minor hamstring injury.

Once again, the situation is not dissimilar to one in 2019 when Marnus Labuschagne impressed all by stepping in as concussion substitute for Steve Smith and ended up keeping his place even when the senior batter returned for Old Trafford. Usman Khawaja was then the fall guy. This time around, David Warner's position is one under the scanner following twin failures vs Stuart Broad that took his tally of dismissals to the England seamer to 17.

"You keep all options open," Cummins said. "We've got nine or 10 days now, so we'll take a deep breath. We'll go away for a few days.

"But everyone comes back into it. Greeny should be fit for Manchester. Josh [Hazlewood] will be back in there as well. So we should have a full roster and we'll have a look at the wicket and have a chat and work out the best XI."




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