MELBOURNE: Australia captain Pat Cummins hailed team mates Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green for their courage under fire after the injured duo played through pain to help the side complete a series-sealing victory over South Africa on Thursday.
Paceman Starc snapped a tendon in the middle finger of his bowling hand during a fielding mishap on day one of the second Test in Melbourne but bowled a full load and took a wicket on day four as Australia won by a thumping innings and 182 runs.
All-rounder Green retired hurt after his index finger was broken by an Anrich Nortje delivery but returned to the crease on day three to score an unbeaten 51, adding to his five-wicket haul earlier.
“(It’s) probably a good time to mention all the incredible achievements this week. Starcy with a finger that’s going to put him out for a few weeks, to have the bravery to go out and do that,” Cummins told reporters.
“Cam Green, the same, ‘guts-ing’ it out for us.
“We saw Steve Smith and Davey (Warner) on day two in 38 degrees – gutsy, gutsy innings.
“It just speaks volumes for the team at the moment. Everyone would do anything for each other so we’re in a really good place.”
The Boxing Day Test triumph gave Australia an unassailable 2-0 lead ahead of the third and final match in Sydney, while shoring up top spot in the World Test Championship.
It also capped an exceptional year for Australia in Test cricket, with Cummins’s side winning seven out of 10 matches, including a series win in Pakistan.
After Sydney, Australia will switch focus to the tour of India in February with the Ashes in England to follow.
With veteran opener Warner shrugging off a lean run in a brilliant 200 in the Melbourne heat and a depleted attack still easily able to deal with South Africa, Cummins said he was leading a special Australian team.
“Yeah, probably the best Test team I’ve played in, just in terms of how well settled everyone is, how well everyone knows their gameplan,” he said.
“In terms of captaining I don’t feel like I have to do much at all. Everyone looks after themselves. You just kind of make sure the buses are on time – which the team manager does.
“It’s just in a really sweet spot at the moment. We know it’s not going to stay like this forever. But I think we can just all kind of sit back and appreciate the place that we are in at the moment because it’s really special
“We’re having a hell of a lot of fun as well doing it together with some of our best mates.”