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Pat Cummins reveals heartbreaking ordeal of juggling mother’s deteriorating health and playing against India

Australia Pat Cummins described this time last year as the toughest period of his life.

Australia captain Pat Cummins has shed light on ‘the toughest time of life’ as he shuffled between playing a Test series against India and looking after the deteriorating health of his mother. Cummins lost his mother Maria to cancer last year but before the tragedy struck, the Australia all-rounder was in India playing the four-Test Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Between the second and third Test, Cummins flew back home to attend to a family medical matter, which was later revealed to be his mother’s health crisis.

Pat Cummins had to leave midway during the Test series against India last year. (Getty)

Cummins was expected to be back for the third Test, but when his absence got prolonged, the worst was expected. On March 10, the Australian media announced that Cummins’ mother had passed away after a prolonged battle with cancer, thus ruling him out of the ODI leg too. Even though the pride of playing for Australia has always spurred Cummins, it was the one time he wished he was away from everything to be with his mother.

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“I knew when I was getting on that plane that I was going to have to come back in a couple of weeks pretty much. That was the hardest time of my life, easily. I probably felt it in the 12 months leading in. Any time I flew away I was like, ‘Time’s finite here, I’m making a deliberate choice to go and play somewhere rather than spend it at home’,” Cummins said in an interview with The Imperfects Podcast.

“But that time in particular – because we knew roughly the timeline, and knowing Mum and Dad as well; how much joy they get, sitting together, watching me play – that gave me enough confidence to go and play, and they were desperate for me to go and play, and I knew I could hop on a flight at any time and come back. But for those couple of weeks I was in India, especially now that I look back on it, my mind was not in India, it was back home the whole time.”

Wanted to go back and be a kid all over again: Cummins

Cummins is a three-time World Cup winner, an astute leader and arguably the best captain across formats in world cricket, but enduring the responsibility of national duty and attending to his family when they needed him the most transformed him into a different man. Cummins revealed that at that moment, he wanted to get away from everything – the fame, the reputation and even Australia’s captaincy – and go back in time when life was a lot more innocent and simpler.

“I remember my manager and a couple of other people around me who I normally listen to were calling me and being like, ‘I think we need to give a little bit of a reason why you’ve gone home’, and I’m like, ‘Nah, don’t care’, and he’s like, ‘Nah, you’re getting a lot of heat here, you’ve got to explain yourself’, and I was like, ‘I honestly do not care what people think’,” Cummins said.

“After about six or seven days when I knew I wasn’t going to come back to India, we said Mum’s in palliative care. But I literally could not have cared less what people were saying about me. Mum was a super private person, Dad is as well. So I know Mum wouldn’t want any attention at all. That was probably the main reason. But two, I just wanted to go back to being a kid. Just no one knows who you are; you’re just a son. I remember that for those two weeks [I was thinking], ‘I don’t want to go and play in front of millions of people and everything gets picked apart. I just want to be the kid who is sitting there with Mum and Dad’.”

Unfortunately, his mother couldn’t be around as Cummins ticked off the three most invaluable achievements as an Australia captain – retain the Ashes against England, winning the World Test Championship and the ODI World Cup – all in the same year.


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