Pat Cummins is a relaxed man.
Be it changing sunglasses every few minutes — he is brand ambassador for Carrera Eyewear — or posing for selfies with fans at a meet-and-greet at Chennai’s Phoenix MarketCity, Pat, as he is popularly known, could well come across as regular ‘Australian mate’ material.
Except, he isn’t. On the cricket field, Pat Cummins is anything but relaxed. A lanky fast bowler who charges in at 150kph on a cricket field, he gives batsmen across the world sleepless nights: they are trying to work out ways to counter his pace. As captain of the Australian team, he is also well known to marshal resources to get the best out of his men in yellow.
He hopes to display a bit of that Aussie aggression this Sunday in Chennai, as Australia takes on India in its first big-ticket match in World Cup 2023. “I’m excited, because this (the ODI World Cup) happens only once in four years. This is where the attention is for the whole cricketing world. I’m pumped this year,” he says.
Pat has been a regular feature in the Aussie line up for a few years now, having played for the side in important tournaments including the Ashes, but the 50-over World Cup is extra special. “T20 has obviously been around for the last few years, but the ODI World Cup has a big history around it. This is my third World Cup, and Australia has had some success over the years, and I’m hoping it will be the same this time around too.”
While the tournament consists of 10 teams battling it out over the next few weeks, India and Australia are among the top sides that are touted to bag the cup. India, says Pat, is a “tough opponent”. “They always are. They know the conditions really well, considering they are the home team. But there are many other good sides as well, so you need to be on top of your game for every match.”
And for that, he is looking forward to support from the fans in the stands. “The fans here in India… they’re always passionate. They’re obviously crazy about the Indian cricket team, but we have always felt well supported here. We get a lot of love when we play here, because people clap for wickets and runs for both teams.”
Chennai, in particular, is special to Pat not just because he is playing the opening game in the city this season but also because it brings back some special memories. “Chennai is the first Indian city I came to in 2011 when I played the Champions League. Many Australian players who have turned up for the Chennai Super Kings have told me how they enjoyed their time here.”
Tryst with the sport
Pat, now 30, grew up in New South Wales, about 70 kilometres from Sydney, dreaming of just one thing: bowling fast. Watching and hearing tales about legendary Australian fast bowlers, like Dennis Lillee and Glenn Mcgrath, added to his desire. “Some of the names you mentioned… those are the guys I watched on TV and wanted to emulate. I wanted to do what they had done.” But, what is it with Australia and fast bowlers? “Well, we’re very angry in Australia, so as kids, we want to be fast bowlers,” he laughs.
Among the many superstars he grew up watching was Brett Lee, whom Pat considers a favourite. “Oh, I loved him. He had bleach blonde hair, which really stood out, and bowled really fast and had a great celebration every time he picked wickets.”
Pat represents the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League, which has given several opportunities for players from obscure backgrounds making a mark in the cricketing world. “I was that youngster not long ago. I was 18-19 when I played with greats like Jacques Kallis and Morne Morkel.” Now, despite being an international superstar bowler, Pat still considers the IPL as an opportunity to learn a new trick or two. “It helps me get closer to Indian culture and observe stories of cricketers who come from different backgrounds. That’s one of the wonderful things about the IPL. We have had players in our team who got discovered through Instagram; from a remote Indian village , they’re suddenly playing in front of thousands of people.”
Despite being a busy player with a packed calendar, Pat Cummins makes it a point to binge-watch sport documentaries. “I just watched the new docuseries on David Beckham, and loved it,” he reveals. One of his favourite sports series to watch is The Last Dance, which chronicled basketball champ Michael Jordan’s rise. “It’s great seeing other sports doing things a little differently from cricket, but there are so many common traits, like working hard and looking after your team mates.”
This Sunday, even as Pat’s baby boy Albie Boston celebrates his second birthday back home in Australia, Pat Cummins will take on team India here. How does he balance fatherhood and cricket? “Cricket is a small part of my life that I love, but I will be a father for the rest of my life, and that’s the most important thing. They (my family) will come over to India later and we will have a late birthday celebration. I love playing cricket, but being a father is my main job.”
“I love watching sports documentaries. It is great seeing other sports doing things a little differently from cricket, but there are so many common traits, like working hard and looking after your team mates”Pat CumminsAustralian cricket captain