Spirit of Cricket - Be yourself
“Cricket gives people permission to be themselves."
Australia’s national captain Pat Cummins says he first realised cricket was a place where people could express and celebrate who they are when he watched his sister play park cricket.
While the other players in the local junior team focussed on scoring runs and taking wickets, Cummins’s sister discovered another way to enjoy her time in a way her brother described as “cool.”
“You can’t talk about cricket and say: ‘this is the way it is played; this is the way it’s always been played,” said Cummins. “When my sister played for a year or two, she spent all the time on the sideline doing ‘Zinc makeup’ and I’d just think to myself that was pretty cool!
“Cricket gives people permission to be themselves. Inclusiveness is huge these days . . . characters are so important . . .and there’s so much room for that.”
Cummins said when he joined Penrith’s grade cricket club he benefited as an individual from mixing with people from diverse backgrounds.
“Playing grade cricket for Penrith was a tremendous experience,” he said. “Penrith is an inclusive club, and it was there I learnt diversity is cricket’s strength.
“We had players aged from 15 to 45, they came from different backgrounds and jobs, but cricket taught us none of that matters.”
When Australia won the 2021-22 Ashes series, Cummins and other members of the triumphant Aussie squad called a stop to the traditional celebration of spraying the team with champagne when Usman Khawaja made a hasty exit from the stage.
Khawaja, a devout Muslim, can’t drink alcohol due to his religious beliefs, but he didn’t want to stop his teammates from enjoying themselves. However, when Cummins and teammates Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne saw Khawaja standing on his own, they called a stop to it because they didn’t want their mate to feel isolated.
“If this video doesn’t show you that the boys have my back, I don’t know what will,” Khawaja wrote of the gesture. “They stopped their normal champagne celebrations so I could re-join. Inclusivity in the game and our values as a sport are so important.”