Pat Cummins breaks ranks in $40 million Cricket Australia furore

Pat Cummins is pictured with Nathan Lyon as the Australian cricketers appear in an advertisement for Alinta Energy.
Pat Cummins has confirmed he will no longer appear in advertisements for Cricket Australia's major sponsor Alinta Energy. Picture: YouTube/Alinta Energy

Cricket Australia is on the hunt for a new major sponsor after parting ways with Alinta Energy, soon after reports emerged Pat Cummins had opted out of participating in advertisements for the company.

Announced as Australia's new ODI captain on Tuesday, Cummins was quickly asked about his thoughts on the sponsorship ending in light of his own increasing environmental activism.

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CA and Alinta Energy have announced the partnership formed in 2018 will come to an end in 2023, with Cummins taking advantage of a contractual clause that allows him to step away from promotional commitments after two years as the 'face' of Alinta, The Australian reported.

The sponsorship arrangement has been reportedly worth some $40 million to CA over the duration of the four-year partnership with Alinta.

In that time, Cummins has launched the Cricket for Climate, an initiative aiming to equip local cricket clubs with solar energy panels - though he was criticised for his timing in doing so two days before former coach Justin Langer was sacked by CA.

Cummins has appeared in numerous ads for Alinta Energy since the beginning of their partnership in 2018, however CA has knocked back suggestions the captain's lobbying to ensure the sport reduces its environmental impact was a factor in the recently announced split.

While Cummins told reporters he had not put pressure on CA to end the deal, he said players have a role in deciding which organisations they want to be associated with.

"It has always been a balance," he said.

"We have seen certain players make decisions based on religions, or certain foods they eat, where they won't partner with specific partners.

"Every organisation has a responsibility to do what's right for the sport and what they think is right for the organisation, and I hope society when it moves forward.

"It is a balance when you make decisions about who you are going to welcome into the cricket family."

Pat Cummins' environment stance not behind CA sponsor split

Cummins reiterated on several occasions the Australian players had supported CA's partners and appreciated what they had done for the game.

Hours after Cummins fronted the press, CA said in a statement a "change in brand strategy" - not the skipper's comments - had prompted the WA-based energy supplier to step away.

The release also noted Alinta's leadership in transitioning to net-zero emissions through a range of initiatives.

The situation comes days after Saudi Arabian state-owned oil company Aramco was announced as the sponsor of ICC T20 World Cup's player-of-the-match awards.

Cummins said he had not been consulted on that partnership.

Pat Cummins is pictured playing for Australia in a T20 international.
Pat Cummins has shown little hesitancy to press cricket officials on ways they can try to reduce the environmental impact of the sport. (Photo by Chris Hyde - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images) (Cricket Australia via Getty Imag)

"They are a tournament sponsor. That is obviously far away from the decisions us players make," he said.

The issue of sporting organisations and who they choose to align with is a topic that is moving front and centre in discussions surrounding sport.

Netball Australia has this week been forced to defend a sponsorship deal with mining giant Hancock Prospecting despite opposition from within the Diamonds squad.

Cummins has faced accusations of hypocrisy for his environmental work, with 2GB host Ben Fordham suggesting it was not Cummins' place to speak up in this instance.

"The idea that the national captain is personally lobbying for his boss to cancel a $40 million sponsorship deal is just absolutely crazy," Fordham said on Tuesday.

“It’s a power company - not an outlaw bikie gang.”

With AAP

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