Australia captain Tim Paine has called Pat Cummins the best fast bowler in the world and believes the 26-year-old pacer has the numbers and statistics to back the claim. Cummins, the No. 1 ranked ICC Test bowler, in 2019, has an astonishing 54 wickets from 11 Tests at an average of 20.61 and strike-rate of 45, 13 adrift of Australia teammate Nathan Lyon, who is at No.2

Australia are ahead 1-0 against New Zealand and on Thursday, Cummins is set to unleash his pace against at the Boxing Day Test at the historic Melbourne Cricket ground, the same venue where he picked up a career-best 6/23 and scored a brave 63 against India in January this year.

Cummins’s hot run saw him fetch big bucks at the IPL auction. He attracted a gobsmacking Rs 15.50 crore from two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders and became the costliest foreign buy ever. As Paine mulls team combination ahead of the second Test, the skipper said it was great to see Cummins bank on a lot more elements than just pace and add variety to his bowling.

“He’s clearly the best bowler in the world, his stats will probably back that up,” Paine told reporters on Wednesday. “Not just for one series, or one Test, or two Tests here or there, he’s done it every game. I think he’s getting better with experience as well, I think you’re noticing he’s not always bowling high-140s anymore, which is a great, great attribute and skill.”

Meanwhile, Australia are yet to decide on their final playing XI for the Melbourne Test saying they will assess the pitch on Thursday before making the call.

“We’ll find out tomorrow. The wicket is a bit unknown but we’ve got a plan in place for both scenarios (with Neser or without). We’ve probably got two different teams (in mind), to be honest, so we’ll make the final call tomorrow,” Paine said.