Aussie cricket captain Pat Cummins has spoken publicly for the first time since the devastating loss of his mother Maria, who lost her battle with breast cancer in March. The Test skipper admits he is still "pretty raw" as he struggles to come to terms with the heartbreaking personal tragedy.
In his first interview since leaving India midway through Australia's tour in February to spend time with his dying mother, Cummins said he is still processing his grief ahead of Australia's upcoming World Test Championship (WTC) final against India next month, followed closely by a five-Test Ashes series in England.
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Cummins missed the final two Tests against India after flying home to be with his mother and family three weeks before her death. The Aussie team wore black armbands during the fourth Test after news broke of Maria's death before play and Cumminn says while he is still coping with her loss, he treasured the final days spent with his late mother and family.
"It's still pretty raw at the moment but the last few months I was lucky enough to spend loads of time with mum," he said. "But (also) us as kids, and (with) dad, and just sharing all those memories together.
"I think it hits home the kind of person you want to be, the kind of father you want to be. So from that side, it's been quite good. Lots of memories. But in terms of the grief I guess we'll keep working through that."
In the wide-ranging chat with England soccer legend Rio Ferdinand, the Aussie captain also admitted that having experienced burnout from cricket in the past, it has forced him to prioritise his career accordingly. Cummins said he needed to adjust mentally after forcing his way back into the Australian team in 2017 following almost six years on the outer due to injury.
The rise of Twenty20 leagues across the world has meant players have increasingly had to choose between the riches of franchise cricket and the prestige of playing for their country. However, Cummins says it's been important for him to find other things in his life outside of cricket.
Pat Cummins was left 'burnt out' by cricket
"Cricket's basically 12 months of the year; there's always a cricket game going on somewhere, and I played non-stop for a year or two," Cummins told WeAre8's 'Get Real with Rio'. Cummins admits he was "burnt out" by the relentless nature of the cricket schedule when he returned from a frustrating run of injuries early in his international career.
"This is about four or five years ago, (when) I kind of just came back from injuries. And I was just spent, like burnout and I just remember thinking 'geez I'm 25 here but I want to do this until I'm 35' I've got to find a way to balance all these different things."
One of those passions outside of his sport has been Cricket for Climate, a foundation he helped set up to reduce the sport's carbon footprint. His involvement in the cause has prompted some criticism from right-wing commentators, telling him to "stick to cricket", particularly after the Test skipper's stand against previous sponsor, Alinta Energy.
However, the 29-year-old says he plans to remain actively involved in climate matters and other issues that are close to his heart. "We'd (Cricket for Climate) love to go overseas, India, England, there's so much scope for making a change in those places," Cummins added.
"I try to do my little bit to normalise the conversation and make a bit of difference to make his (son Albie) future a bit better. "I'd love to sit back in 10-20 years and just show the huge impact we've made."
The Aussie skipper will return to lead his side in the WTC final against India at The Oval in London on June 7, before the Ashes gets underway on June 16. The Aussie side will use that WTC final match as preparation for the Ashes, after opting to go through an Ashes summer in England without playing any county opposition for the first time. After the WTC final, the Aussies will instead go on a golf trip to Merseyside before bunkering down for a training camp in Kent, where they will have access to a centre-wicket and practice nets.
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