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Pat Cummins reveals lessons learned from mother's death in heartbreaking new insight

The Australian cricket captain has opened up after losing his mum Maria 12 months ago.

Pat Cummins has revealed he was never fully present during last year's Test cricket tour of India because he knew he would have to return home at some stage to deal with his mother's death. Cummins travelled to India with the Aussie team last February, but flew back home after the second Test when his mother was gravely ill with cancer.

Cummins made a mad dash back home to be by mum Maria's side as she received palliative care, and didn't return to India after she died a short time later. Speaking on 'The Imperfects' podcast this week, the Aussie captain opened up on the "hardest time of his life" and revealed how the tragedy has changed his leadership.

Pat Cummins, pictured here with family.
Pat Cummins was rocked by the death of his mother Maria (third from left) in March 2023. Image: Getty/Pat Cummins

"I knew when I was getting on that plane (to the India tour) I was going to have to come back in a couple of weeks," he said. "Maybe only a handful of people knew that was going to be the case."

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Cummins copped heavy scrutiny after taking just three wickets in the first two Tests, with India winning both to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at the halfway mark of the series. But none of the critics knew of his personal turmoil.

The 30-year-old said he travelled to India with his parents' blessing, but never felt mentally present. "For those couple of weeks I was in India, especially now I look back at it, my mind was not in India. It was back home the whole time," he said.

"Flying away ... that's the hardest time of my life, easily. I probably felt, the 12 months leading in, any time I flew away, I was like, 'time is finite here. I'm making a deliberate choice to go and play somewhere rather than spend it at home'."

Travis Head, Steve Smith and Pat Cummins.
Travis Head, Steve Smith and Pat Cummins look on before the first Test between Australia and New Zealand. (Getty Images)

How mother's death has changed Pat Cummins' leadership

Cummins said both the Covid-19 pandemic and his mother's death have changed his approach to captaincy. He now tries to take a more holistic approach to leading his team, encouraging players to live full lives while on tour.

"If we're going to be away from our families, let's make sure we're having the time of our lives," he said. "Play really good cricket, but ... pack your golf clubs, bring your coffee machine, if we're in London, go and explore, go and see a show.

"We're trying to create as much space in the diary for people to be able to live their lives. It's definitely a lesson learned from mum. I don't want to waste any time."

The effects of Cummins' leadership change have been on full display for the last 12 months. He helped Australia retain the Ashes in England in June, before beating India in the World Test Championship final just a week later.

He then led Australia to glory at the ODI World Cup in September, where they again beat India in the final in front of a huge Indian crowd. This summer the Aussies swept Pakistan 3-0 in their Test series, before suffering a blip with a 1-1 series draw with West Indies.

But they bounced back in perfect fashion against New Zealand last week, thrashing the Kiwis in the first Test in Wellington to retain the Trans-Tasman Trophy. Cummins' changed approach has been personified in New Zealand, where the Aussie players have shown as much appetite for the first Test as they have their golf pursuits on days off.

with AAP

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