Cummins also led well in the field, and said he had been tactically aware of what was needed whether that was when his team was batting or when he had to make a call even on his own bowling.
“I found myself looking up at the scoreboard, trying to work out the overs, making sure our bats were OK – not too bad,” he said.
In the field, Cummins said he had turned to teammate Moises Henriques, who had been the Blues’ one-day squad skipper, for help.
“It was a bit different. I had “Moiy’ out there next to me at mid-off so I lent on him a fair bit, a few times getting his thoughts. Hopefully a few more games and we’ll see how I go,” Cummins said.
Smith said tougher days awaited Cummins, while Brad Haddin, the former Australian vice-captain and now Fox Cricket commentator, praised Cummins for his tactical control and for maintaining pressure on the Vics throughout the afternoon.
The aborted Test tour of South Africa has meant several of the sport’s stars will finish the season playing for their home states or at least until Indian Premier League obligations kick in in April.
Smith, in his first knock since the losing Indian Test series, delivered his maiden century at the picturesque venue. He arrived with his side in trouble at 2-6 and embraced a measured start before finding the accelerator late in an innings punctuated by nine boundaries and half-a-dozen sixes – one a sumptuous straight lifted drive off spinner Jon Holland.
“Smart innings – he read the game really well, then cut loose at the back end of his innings,” former Australian star Mark Waugh said in commentary.
There was a difficult caught-and-bowled chance off Holland when he was on 25 but Smith soon posted a half-century on a sluggish pitch.
Exciting debutant Oliver Davies made an impression with a turbo-charged half-century (57 off 41).
He latched on to anything short, three times pulling for six, while a crisp cut off paceman Zak Evans – reinforcing his quick hands and a technique which is slightly open – was another highlight. He and Smith had put on 89 in good time before Davies skied a slower ball and was caught in the deep.
Cummins then delivered plenty of support, including crunching Xavier Crone for six over mid-wicket, completing a miserable day (1-94) for the young quick. He also took to Evans and Will Sutherland but hit out once too often and was denied a half-century when caught at third man.
James Pattinson, in his first state match since December, claimed 2-58 and delivered a late, powerful half-century, including a spate of four boundaries from five deliveries at one point.
In reply, the Vics slipped to 2-20 before Marcus Harris (47 off 59) and skipper Peter Handscomb (31 off 37) threatened to drag their side back into the contest. However, when their 50-run stand ended, the Vics struggled to regain momentum.
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.