Australia captain Pat Cummins is aiming for a “legacy-defining” Ashes series in England after leading his side to victory against India in the World Test Championship final on Sunday.
Cummins’ men succeeded inaugural WTC champions New Zealand as international cricket’s premier red-ball team with a 209-run win over India at The Oval.
The success was an ideal boost five days out from the first Test against arch-rivals England at Edgbaston, with Cummins bidding to become the first Australia skipper to oversee an away Ashes series win since Steve Waugh back in 2001.
“Whether we like it or not, Ashes series tend to define eras and teams,” said Cummins.
“An Ashes (in England) is bloody hard to win. It’s been 20-odd years so it’s not going to be easy. If we win, that is legacy-defining stuff.”
Australia’s WTC victory was the culmination of a two-year cycle of Tests that saw them win 12 out of 20 matches, with five draws and just three defeats.
Cummins stressed it was worth enjoying in itself, regardless of the upcoming Ashes.
“I think we’ll sit around in the changing rooms for a while and then we’ll find a nice sunny English beer garden somewhere this afternoon to sit back and celebrate,” said the 30-year-old fast bowler.
“I know we’ve got a big series but we can worry about that in a couple days’ time. You only get a few of these moments in your career where you can sit back, acknowledge a pretty special achievement and this is one of these times.”
One potential issue for Australia as they travel from London to Birmingham for the first Ashes Test is the composition of their pace attack.
Scott Boland, who has now taken 33 wickets in eight Tests at an average of 14.57, appears to have forced his way in.
The seamer sparked India’s last-day collapse by dismissing both Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja in the same over.
That would appear to leave Josh Hazlewood, passed fit after missing the final, competing for a place with left-arm quick Mitchell Starc.
“Scotty was fantastic, he’s now my favourite player,” Cummins said.
“He keeps finding another level, doesn’t he? He was just our best bowler all game.
“He held it together, he didn’t go for many runs and to get two big wickets in an over is just reward for how well he bowled.
“For sure, Scotty has a huge role to play in the Ashes.”
The Sydney Daily Telegraph said Australia “deserve praise” for routing Rohit Sharma’s team, but warned: “Deep down they know that the main prize is still to be won.
“Because the brutal truth is this fine accomplishment from Pat Cummins’ men will soon be forgotten if Australia doesn’t win the Ashes,” said the tabloid.
“The good news is, performing in the pressure of a Test Championship final seems a pretty good way to warm up for England.”