Why Australia made a mistake on Jason Cummings

One of the hallmarks of Graham Arnold’s time in charge of the Socceroos was the amazing squad selection that confused pundits, alumni and national team supporters.

The recent announcement of a friendly match against Jordan and a World Cup play-off match against the United Arab Emirates has raised more questions than answers.

Jason Cummings was such a player that many were hesitant to discuss national team responsibilities. I even wrote an article on it late last year.

However, after arriving on the Australian coast in January 2022 and showcasing his talent, it is unimaginable that Cummings will not be selected.

Coach Graham Arnold shared some insights into his decision during a recent press conference.

“Jason Cummings, I see him as a player and he’s just like Jamie McLaren,” he said.

“He’s very different from the tags (Adam Taggart) and (Mitch) Duke and (Nick) D’Agostino, but I see him as Jamie and Jamie is the top scorer in the A-League.”

Arnold’s response was overwhelming, and could be disputed following a more confident journalist coach following the claim, who became well-known for making offensive remarks to the press while in charge of the national team.

Simply put, Jamie McLaren and Jason Cummings are two very different types of strikers.

McLaren is your prototype ‘Fox in the Box’ striker who will be on par with the last defender before running a darting across the area or expecting a defensive error in the hope of being in the right place at the right time for a simple tap in.

Cummings is equally adept at the box and also capable of hitting targets from a long range, but it is his rate of work that sets him apart from McLaren.

Jason Cummings

(Photo by Ashley Federer / Getty Images)

In addition to being comfortable and having the strength to hold the ball to the back of the goal, Cummings chases defenders very little out of possession and makes himself a complete nuisance this past season while still adhering to the defensive structure of the tough Mariners.

No doubt Jamie McLaren is the best local striker in the A-League, having won the regular Golden Boot this past season, but his 2021-22 figures are very favorablely compared to the Cummings campaign.

McLaren played 27 games and finished with an average of 16 goals per 154 minutes.

He has taken 85 shots with 38 targets for an overall conversion rate of 18.82 percent.

Cummings played fewer games (21), finished with fewer goals (10) and took about 20 minutes extra time to score one goal every 172 minutes.

However, he took much shorter shots (43) for a good overall conversion rate of 23.26 percent and got a higher score (29) on goal.

Both players have been undisciplined throughout the season, winning as well as betting on the Cummings foul, but that record is tied when it comes to card counting.

Cummings’ pass percentage is 81 percent, ahead of McLaren’s 71 percent

The Edinburgh-born Hitman’s off-field behavior regularly makes tabloids in his native Scotland, but he has become a role model for the team’s young up-and-coming strikers because of the family-like culture the Mariners are known for.

Graham Arnold played it safe with his squad selection in preparation for a World Cup qualifier so some X Factor might be needed.

Jamie McLaren has enough chances and chances to be No. 9 in Australia. This is a position that has not yet been adequately filled since the days of Mark Bidokar

Jason Cummings may not be good enough for that position, but his statistics alone this season claim at least one call to be part of the camp.

Looks like we’ll never know if he’s the answer to the troubled No. 1 position because of an old national team coach trying and sticking to the test, where Australia are on the verge of being knocked out of the World Cup qualifiers.

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