July 6, 2015 / 6:48 AM / 2 years ago

Cummins ready to take the red ball after Ashes call-up

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian quick Pat Cummins has not played a first class match for two years but is confident his body will hold up to the rigours of test cricket should he get the call during the Ashes series against England.

The 22-year-old right-armer was called into the Australia squad on Saturday when Ryan Harris announced his retirement after scans ruled him out of the series, which starts in Cardiff on Wednesday.

Cummins, who had been in Queensland since the World Cup preparing for an Australia 'A' tour to India, said he felt fighting fit even if he was aware his chances of getting a game were slim.

"Really fortunate to get the call now. Not the nicest circumstances with 'Ryno' going down but just a wonderful opportunity for myself," he told reporters in Brisbane before his departure for England.

"I'm certainly hopeful but I know I haven't played a first class game for a year or two so the jump up for a test series was always going to be a big call.

"My body feels really strong and the jump up shouldn't be too much. There's a tour match after the second test so I'd love to get an opportunity in that and get used to bowling hopefully two or three days in a row."In many ways, Cummins was an appropriate replacement for Harris given the way injury has also hampered his career, limiting him to just six first class matches and his one and only test.

That test came in Johannesburg in October 2011 when, as an 18-year-old, he claimed man of the match honours after his second innings 6-79 and 13 not out fired Australia to victory over South Africa.

Given that sensational debut, it is perhaps understandable that Cricket Australia would wrap him in cotton wool when back and foot injuries afflicted his still-growing body.

It is a strategy that appears to have paid dividends.

"Body's been great, I've been lucky I haven't had to think about any niggles or anything for the last two years," Cummins said.

"So I've just been up here bowling and getting used to the red ball. I'm ready to go now... It would be pretty seamless to go into a game now."

With Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Peter Siddle ahead of him the pecking order, Cummins is perhaps wise to be circumspect about getting into the side.

He does have more raw pace than fellow right-armers Hazlewood and Siddle, however, and could get a chance if he can show his recent work on swinging the red ball has paid off.

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by John O'Brien

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