Cricket Australia captain Pat Cummins quits Alinta Energy sponsorship as backlash erupts

Australian captain Pat Cummins says he will not feature as an ambassador for Cricket Australia’s biggest financial backer.

The Test skipper on Tuesday spoke publicly as a storm erupted about his boycott of the governing body’s partnership with Alinta Energy.

Reports emerged on Tuesday morning Cummins had expressed concern about his ongoing partnership with Alinta Energy.

He is reported to have taken issue with the energy provider’s parent company Pioneer Sail Holdings, one of the Australia’s biggest carbon emitters.

Cummins has repeatedly made public stands for environmental and climate change causes – often leaving him exposed to torrents of criticism.

Cummins earlier this year came under fire after he launched Cricket For Climate, a group focused on equipping grassroots clubs with solar panels and other initiatives in order to reduce their carbon output to net zero.

He was widely condemned at the timing of the launch as he fronted a press conference just days before former cricket coach Justin Langer was forced to resign.

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Now the storm has erupted again with Cummins’ environmental advocacy causing friction with Cricket Australia’s biggest commercial partner.

The partnership is reported to have been worth $40 million over four years for Cricket Australia’s coffers.

Cricket Australia said it has reached a mutual agreement with Alinta Energy for the deal to be cut early and will remain in place for just one more summer.

The Age report claims Cricket Australia is now going to market to find a new naming rights sponsor.

The Australian first reported Cummins had spoken to Cricket Australia about his ethical objections to the partnership and would not feature in the company’s commercial operations of advertising campaigns this summer.

The report claimed Cummins was able to avoid being involved because of the details in standard playing contracts allowing him to step aside after two years as one of the faces of the company. It has not escaped his detractors that Cummins had previously featured in TV ads for Alinta.

The report revealed Cummins approached Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley to voice his objections. It comes after a similar storm has erupted between the Diamonds and Netball Australia with players reportedly left offside by the governing body’s long-term partnership with Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting mining company.

Cummins faced the press on Tuesday and stood by his convictions, but denied he strong-armed Cricket Australia into abandoning the deal.

“No, not at all. Nick, the CEO and I have a really good relationship. We talk about lots of things. But no, I’ve been a big supporter of all our partners over the last few years,” said Cummins.

“I think it’s probably a stretch exactly what happened.”

He cautioned Cricket Australia and other sporting bodies from accepting commercial sponsorships that did not align with the values of players.

“I think it’s always been a balance. You’ve seen certain players make decisions based on religions or maybe certain foods they eat, they won’t partner specific partners,” said Cummins.

“But we really thank all our partners for everything they do for Cricket Australia and for grass roots supporting the game, and we know our responsibilities. We try and do our best.”

Cummins comes under fire for hypocrisy

Cummins earlier stood up for the rights of athletes to voice their opinions and objections of sponsors they do not “align” with.

“I’ve got my own personal views so when it comes to personal sponsorships there are some companies I wouldn’t want to align with,” he told The Age.

“When we’re getting money, whether it’s programs for junior cricket, grassroots, things for fans around Australia, I feel a real responsibility that with that, we’re doing on balance what is the right thing.”

His stance has divided Australia with commentators telling the 29-year-old to essentially stay in his lane.

The louder he speaks on the issues, the more criticism he has received.

He was accused of creating needless emissions when he chartered a private flight from Adelaide to Sydney to be with his family during Covid lockdowns.

He has also repeatedly been called out for earning millions playing cricket in India while the country continues to operate with a weak climate change policy that has been widely condemned.

Cummins has also been seen driving a gas-guzzling luxury Range Rover.

2GB breakfast radio host Ben Fordham said on Tuesday: ‘The idea that the national captain is personally lobbying for his boss to cancel a $40 million sponsorship deal is just absolutely crazy.

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

Cummins remains a high-profile member of several environmental and social advocacy groups and this year also emerged as the leader of The Cool Down initiative — a climate change initiative that involves 300 fellow athletes, including former Wallaby captain David Pocock, AFLW player and sports commentator Daisy Pearce, Olympic swimmers Cate and Bronte Campbell, world champion surfer Mick Fanning, and cricket veteran Ian Chappell.

He was criticised when the news emerged for stepping outside of his sporting space.

“He is entitled to his views,” 3AW Drive host Tom Elliott said at the time.

“But if I was Pat Cummins, I’d be focused on winning The Ashes.

“Sportspeople think that because they’re good at sport, we should listen to them on other issues. And yet the reality is that most of the time we should not.

“And, let’s be honest, if you are an international cricketer getting paid hundreds of thousands – if not millions – to play in India and all sorts of different countries, your carbon footprint is far higher than the average person.

“Cricketers fly around in first class and business class and generate a lot more pollution than the average person because their job, playing professional cricket, requires them to be in all corners of the globe.

“I don’t see how, on one hand, you can earn money flying all around the world at the drop of a hat you can lecture other people about climate change.”

Cummins is emerging as a divisive figure as one of the highest profile athletes in the country after he was earlier this year branded “gutless” by fast-bowling legend Mitchell Johnson for his apparent refusal to support Langer.

Sky News commentator Rita Panahi was scathing of Cummins at the time, penning a column for The Herald Sun where she criticised the cricketer’s double standards.

“Of course being a climate change warrior won’t see Cummins make meaningful personal sacrifices such as a finding a profession that doesn’t require him to continuously fly around the world on emission-spewing planes,” she wrote.

“No, like all wealthy global warming alarmists Cummins supports crippling policies that will adversely impact the living standards of the masses while his lifestyle and gargantuan carbon footprint remain unchanged.”

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