Cummins made one of the most memorable Test debuts, named man of the match after taking seven wickets, then hitting the winning runs under extreme pressure late on the final day of the second Test in Johannesburg on Monday (early Tuesday AEDT).
With his extra pace, the 18-year-old has emerged as Australia’s most valuable bowler and future leader of the attack.
However, Clarke said Cummins must be carefully managed over the coming months and should not be used for Australia in all three forms of the game.
“He is as good an athlete in the field as we’ve had come into this team for a while,” Clarke said. “We’ve got to be smart, though. I don’t think it’s possible for Paddy right now to play all forms of the game for Australia. To play every single game, I think would be silly. That’s only my opinion.
“We need to speak to the selectors and we need to make a plan for him, because he’s got a bright future. He’s got the potential to be an amazing cricketer for Australia, and we have to be smart and make sure we look after him.”
Australia’s new coach Mickey Arthur agreed with Clarke’s caution about managing Cummins.
“We need to be a little careful,” Arthur said in Melbourne on Tuesday, hinting he could rotate the pace bowlers in Australia’s six Tests against New Zealand and India this summer.
“With six Test matches in eight weeks coming up, it’s going to be tough on the bowlers having to win games, day in and day out,” Arthur said. “We need to have depth and a fast bowling battery to achieve what we want.”
Arthur said while anticipation always surrounded emerging young cricketers, Cummins’ “expectation level might have just gone through the roof”.
Arthur described Cummins’ debut as “incredibly exciting” and compared the teenager to South Africa’s pace spearhead Dale Steyn in his early days.
“Except Pat Cummins is younger, which makes it all the more exciting,” Arthur said.
Cummins took 6-79 in the second innings of the Johannesburg Test to turn the match for Australia.
As if becoming the second youngest player in history to take six wickets in an innings wasn’t enough, Cummins completed his fairytale when he came in at 8-292 and Australia still needing 18 runs to win.
After surviving a tight lbw decision off the bowling of Imran Tahir, Cummins calmly smashed the leg-spinner to the fence two balls later for the victory.
“Unbelievable,” said Cummins, who scored 13 of the runs. “I’d been biting my nails all day watching the game. To get out there with a few runs left, I was about the most nervous person in the world.”