ICC World Cup: What's stopping Cricket Australia from honouring their heroes?

Players are humans, not robots — captain Pat Cummins hits back about the endless schedule

Australian cricket team captain Pat Cummins holds the 2023 ICC World Cup trophy, with teammate Mitchell Starc behind him, as they share a laugh in Sydney on 28 November (photo: ICC)
Australian cricket team captain Pat Cummins holds the 2023 ICC World Cup trophy, with teammate Mitchell Starc behind him, as they share a laugh in Sydney on 28 November (photo: ICC)

NH Sports Bureau

The mind-numbing, relentless calendar of international cricket—which saw at least seven members of the World Cup-winning Australian team stay back in India for the T20 International (T20I) series—has not really gone down well with captain Pat Cummins.

The pacer did not pull back any punches when asked about the baggy greens’ struggle in the ongoing series, where they have lost the first two matches. 

Speaking to the media at Sydney Cricket Ground on Tuesday, 28 November, where senior pros Cummins and Mitchell Starc presented the World Cup trophy, the former said: ‘’They’re humans, they are not robots. Putting everything into a World Cup and then playing a couple of days later — I probably don’t begrudge them if they are not at 100 per cent. These are still games for Australia and it’s great that these tours do provide opportunities for some of the younger guys, or guys who might not be in the first eleven.’’

A sizeable number of members from the World Cup squad are also engaged in the series against a new-look India: Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Jos Inglis, Marcus Stoinis, Sean Abbott, Adam Zampa and Travis Head, who won Player of the Final. This has come in the way of Cricket Australia planning a gala felicitation as most of the key players are stuck in different directions.

Meanwhile, reports coming in from Australia say that three players—Ben McDermott, Chris Green and Josh Philippe—have been rushed in as replacements for some of the World Cup-winning members. 

While the T20I series ends on 3 December, Australia will embark on their summer season at home, starting 14 December with a three-match Test series against Pakistan. There are plans lined up for a public celebration of the World Cup win ahead of the first Test match in Perth—but reports in the Sydney Morning Herald suggest that the likes of Inglis, Maxwell and Zampa are still likely to be unavailable, thanks to their Big Bash League commitments. 

“We’ve all split off our own different ways," said wicketkeeper Alex Carey on his return to Adelaide a few days back.

"There’s T20s coming up," he continued. "Some guys are on aeroplanes at the moment getting home as well. I think once we all settle back down and catch up again in Perth or wherever it is, it’ll be nice to talk about it and reflect on it a little bit more.

"It’s probably pretty odd scheduling, now that you look at it," added Carey, "to win a World Cup and a few days later you’re playing again... But the guys over there no doubt will perform really strongly. I think they’ll play pretty fearless cricket.”  

A far cry, this, from the reception that Australia’s World Cup-winning teams in the past were given.

The Steve Waugh-led winning side in 1999 received a ticker-tape parade soon after their arrival in Sydney.

Even in 2003 — despite the break being a short one, with most members of the squad leaving for a Test series in the West Indies in less than a week’s time — more than 5,000 fans plunged into the streets of Perth to welcome home a victorious Ricky Ponting and Co. 

After the home triumph in 2015, the celebrations moved to Federation Square in Melbourne.  

Why, then, is 2023 so lacklustre and such a grind?

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