Australian cricket success leads to scrutiny over player influence


Karan Juneja

It’s not just cricket these days. Photo: karanj (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Did men’s test captain Pat Cummins’ outspoken views on climate change play a part in Alinta Energy’s withdrawal from sponsoring Cricket Australia? And do such cases point to the increased influence of cricketers over what goes on in their sport?

In men’s test cricket, the Australian team is currently the best in the world. Because of its success over the past few years a lot of media coverage has ensued. Cricket Australia and the players have come under fire from journalists and fans around the country, because of controversies they seem to find themselves in. The sport’s governing body made headlines when it was revealed the then test team captain, Tim Paine, had been sending inappropriate messages to a Cricket Tasmania staff member. Cricket Australia then came under fire for its treatment of test team coach, Justin Langer, following the announcement of his sacking and the reasons behind it.

Such controversies have raised the issue of a power shift in international cricket and how players now seem to have much more of a say in what happens in the sport. The most recent example of this is Cummins voicing his opinions about climate change. In February 2022 he launched ‘Cricket for Climate’, a sporting initiative which aims to reduce carbon output from grassroots clubs while spreading awareness of climate change to cricket fans around the world. The initiative is backed by Cummins’ fellow professional cricketers including Steve Smith, David Warner, Alyssa Healy, Rachael Haynes, and many more.

The formation of this initiative and Cummins’ outspoken thoughts on climate change underscore the power Cummins’ holds within Australian cricket. In October 2022, one of Cricket Australia’s biggest partners, Alinta Energy, pulled their sponsorship from Cricket Australia “due to a change in its brand strategy”, according to Fox Sports. This begged the question of whether Cummins played a role in Alinta’s withdrawal.

When Langer was relieved of his role as Australian men’s test team coach, it was revealed that it was due to his deteriorating relationships with the players who went to Cricket Australia and told them about their thoughts on Langer and ideas for a change in pathway. Langer’s sacking came as a great shock with many former players and journalists believing that he’d been treated unfairly by Cricket Australia and that the players had too much influence over coaching decisions. “Never in my time as a player did [we], as a playing group, influence what a board was thinking as far as appointments,” former test captain Ricky Ponting told Fox Sports.

Debate on whether Cummins did have a say in Alinta Energy’s sponsorship removal continued to rage, when he called the rumours “absolute rubbish”.

“The nature of the position I am in…you do get dragged into different things,” Cummins told Sky News.

“It was one of those moments you have to live with people you don’t know having opinions about you.”

It could be argued that Cummins is committed to a particular cause, and is truly trying to better the world through his beliefs. His ‘Cricket for Climate’ organisation is pushing to get solar power installed at 4000 local clubs, according to It’s difficult for someone in such a bright spotlight to not be on the end of any controversy. Alinta Energy was a major partner of Cricket Australia whose sponsorship was worth $40 million. But such cases are set to continue, with players now having more of a say than ever about what goes on in their game.