Pat Cummins has endured a frustrating five years after his Test debut at the age of 18 years in a match-winning performance against South Africa in 2011.
But seeing the smiles on the faces of Canberra kids makes the pain a lot easier to deal with.
“I think for me it’s a great flashback to how I was as a child,” Cummins said.
“To see so many schoolkids just wanting to get out there and get involved in sport and cricket, and loving running around and fielding, batting and bowling and trying everything, for me, it’s a great memory of why I started playing and still play it.
“I guess I started playing because it’s so enjoyable and such a great lifestyle, and it brings great memories seeing the kids of today.”
Since he hit the winning runs in his first and only Test match, Cummins hasn’t even been able to take the field in a Sheffield Shield game.
While another might have thrown it in after an injury-plagued five years, the lure of dusting off the baggy green keeps Cummins coming back for more.
“That’s obviously the dream,” Cummins said.
“But, for me, I just want to get back playing and play as much as I can.
“I still haven’t played a Shield game for about five or six years, so that’s really where my goals are this summer, and we’ll see how it goes from there.
Cummins is back to bowling off a full run-up with his eyes locked on the Blues’ domestic one-day title defence.
“I’ll be fully fit for that and I guess that’s all I’m concentrating on at the moment,” Cummins said.
“I think, as a whole, just not playing cricket in the summer has been frustrating.”
With injuries threatening him to derail his career at every turn, Cummins has been able to piece together his first pre-seasons in years ahead of October’s domestic one-day tournament.
He has become familiar with limited over cricket in recent seasons.
The 23-year fast bowler said that playing in the World Cup and playing in the Big Bash has been “an incredible substitute”, nothing compares to the first-class arena.
“I think being back on the Ashes tour last year and playing some first-class games there reiterated how much I love first-class cricket and everything that comes with it.”