Pat Cummins has said he will not feature in any promotional material for Alinta Energy during the final year of its multimillion dollar sponsorship deal with Cricket Australia, but the governing body insists the Test captain’s environmental concerns are not the reason for the forthcoming end to the partnership.
Cummins, who is a committed climate action advocate, has appeared before in TV adverts for the energy company – CA’s principal sponsorship partner for the past four years – but said on Tuesday he would not do so again.
“Not for this year,” Cummins said when asked if would be appearing in any ads this coming season.
Cummins previously said he had raised objections to CA over the sponsorship deal before the announcement earlier this year that the partnership with Alinta would expire at the end of 2023.
The 29-year-old, one of Australian sport’s most influential figures, voiced his and other players’ concerns to CA’s chief executive Nick Hockley, according to a report in the Age and Sydney Morning Herald.
But CA said that conversation had no bearing on the split between the game’s governing body and Alinta, which will take effect from next year. The decision to end the partnership came from the energy company and was due to a “change in its brand strategy”, CA said in June.
“CA confirms that at no point did any conversation between men’s team captain Pat Cummins and CA CEO Nick Hockley influence Alinta’s decision to finish its sponsorship with Cricket Australia in June 2023,” a statement on Tuesday read.
Cummins, along with the likes of Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Marnus Labuschagne, Rachael Haynes and Alyssa Healy, is part of the Cricket for Climate campaign, which aims to “protect the future of our game, and our planet, for generations to come” by equipping grassroots clubs with solar panels.
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The pace bowler said he hoped the climate crisis and environmental concerns would be taken into account in CA’s search for a new principal partner for its men’s team.
“It has always been a balance,” he said after being announced as Australia’s new ODI captain on Tuesday. “We have seen certain players make decisions based on religions, or certain foods they eat, where they won’t partner with specific partners.
“Every organisation has a responsibility to do what’s right for the sport and what they think is right for the organisation and, I hope, society when it moves forward. It is a balance when you make decisions about who you are going to welcome into the cricket family.”
Environment Victoria CEO Jono La Nauze, who spearheaded a campaign earlier this year urging CA to drop Alinta as a sponsor, said the split would engender “a new race to the top in sports sponsorship in Australia”.
“Sporting codes must be more proactive in seeking sponsors that meet community expectations for positive environmental and social impacts, rather than simply opting for the highest bidder from companies with damaging social and environmental modus operandi,” he said.
It comes at a time when the spotlight has fallen on major sponsors of sporting organisations, after ethical concerns were raised this week about Hancock Prospecting’s partnership with Netball Australia.