It’s been a busy year for Pat Cummins, under whose captaincy Australia have gone on to retain the Ashes in England, beat India in the final of the World Test Championship, and are now vying for their record-extending sixth World Cup title. Cummins, with his astute captaincy and a couple of impressive rearguard efforts, has given himself a chance to join the rarefied league of Allan Border, Steve Waugh, and Ricky Ponting to lead Australia to the World Cup title. But the challenges that await him on Sunday – to beat India in front of their own boisterous fans – are pretty distinct from the men he’s aiming to emulate.
And as weird as it may sound, Cummins’ Australia is a massive underdog going into the final – a statement that 90s and early noughties fans would have never imagined saying in their wildest dreams. They will be playing against a ridiculously dominant team that are yet to sniff, let alone taste defeat in this tournament. A team whose all cogs are whirring and buzzing, from start to end, and there’s no noticeable weakness that you could target.
But another way to interpret this equation, and presumably that’s how Cummins would like to do, is that it’s not their team who are saddled with the burden of expectations. It’s not them who will be playing in front of over 100k home fans waiting earnestly for the moment of triumph. It’s not them who have everything to lose. The hostile crowd will be baying for their blood, but it’s not something that Cummins and his men can control. What is in their hand though is the power to silence the big crowd. “The crowd’s obviously going to be very one-sided but, in sport, there’s nothing more satisfying than hearing a big crowd go silent and that’s the aim for us tomorrow,” quipped Cummins on the eve of the game.
Cummins himself had a lacklustre tournament as a bowler, but it’s hard to imagine Australia where they are currently without his defiant effort with the bat. When Glenn Maxwell brought the carnage against Afghanistan, it was Cummins who held one end by playing a stoic knock. More recently in the semi-final, Cummins allied with Mitchell Starc to take his team over the line. The circle of scepticism has always hung over Cummin’s leadership, but slowly and steadily, he is putting these doubts to rest. If he can inspire Australia to a World Cup title in Ahmedabad, nothing that comes after that would be strong enough to taint his legacy as a clean-shaved, soft-spoken, fast-bowling maverick with the feather of the cricket’s pinnacle trophy adorning his cap.
Here’s an excerpt from our interaction with Pat Cummins.
Man’s World: How are you feeling right now? Nervous? Excited?
Pat Cummins: I’m feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness right now. I’m excited to be playing in the Cricket World Cup, and I’m confident that we have a good chance of winning. However, I’m also nervous about the pressure of playing in front of a home crowd and the expectations that come along.
I know that it will be a tough tournament, but I’m confident that we have the team to win it. We have a good balance of batting, bowling, and all-rounders, and we’re lucky to be playing in front of the friendliest cricketing fans in the world who are out there to enjoy the world’s best cricketing action and to cheer for the best team. I’m looking forward to the challenge.
MW: How have you handled the pressure of being captain during what has arguably been Australia’s biggest transition in cricket from the old guard to the new?
PC: Staying positive: It is important to stay positive, even when things are tough. I try to focus on the positives, such as the talent and potential of the young players in the team. I also try to focus on the things that I can control, such as my own performance and the team’s preparation.
Communicating with the team: It is important to communicate with the team regularly, especially during times of transition. I try to keep the team informed of my plans and expectations. I also try to create an open and supportive environment where players feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas.
Delegating responsibility: I have learned that it is important to delegate responsibility to other members of the team. I cannot do everything myself, and I need to trust my teammates to do their jobs. I have also learned that it is important to give players the freedom to express themselves and to play their own game.
Learning from mistakes: Everyone makes mistakes, and it is important to learn from them. I have learned from my own mistakes as captain, and I have tried to apply those lessons to my leadership style. I have also learned from the mistakes of other captains, both past and present.
Being captain of the Australian cricket team is a great honour, but it is also a big responsibility. I am grateful for the opportunity to lead this team, and I am committed to doing everything I can to help us succeed.
MW: David Warner has already laid out his plans to retire soon after the World Cup. How are you and the team feeling about that?
PC: David Warner is a legend of Australian cricket, and his retirement will be a big loss to the team. He has been one of our most consistent performers over the past decade, his recent performances show his relentless passion and commitment towards the game, and he will be a role model for all future cricketing generations to come.
MW: After a big series, what’s the first thing you do to unwind?
PC: Spend time with my family and friends: They are my biggest supporters, and I love spending time with them after a long series. We usually go out to dinner or watch a movie.
MW: What’s your life like outside of cricket?
PC: Outside of cricket, I am a normal person with the same interests as anyone else. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, playing other sports, and travelling.
MW: How would you describe your personal style?
PC: I would describe my personal style as classic and understated. I like to wear clothes that are clean cuts, comfortable and stylish, and I avoid anything too flashy or over-the-top. I also like to mix and match different pieces to create my own unique look.
MW: What’s Pat Cummins like as a dad?
PC: A loving father.
MW: How did the association with Carrera come about? Which are your favourite sunglasses?
PC: I’m a big fan of Carrera Eyewear and I love their bold and innovative designs. I also felt that the brand’s values aligned well with my own, such as a commitment to quality, craftsmanship, and innovation. My favourite Carrera sunglasses are from the new bold flag & signature collections, especially the Carrera 316 S.
MW: You didn’t play the IPL this year; how does it feel to be back on Indian soil?
PC: I’m also excited to be back in India because I have a lot of friends and fans here. I always enjoy spending time in this country, and I’m looking forward to making some more memories during this World Cup.