When Pat Cummins won the toss and made the decision to bowl first at the Cricket World Cup final up against an undefeated Indian team, he knew it went against conventional wisdom.

But the Australian skipper chose to go with his gut – a move that paid off, with Australia winning a sixth Cricket World Cup title in front of more than 100,000 fans in Ahmedabad, India.

Pat Cummins walking through the stands of the SCG with the ICC World Cup trophy.

In 2023, Australia has won the Cricket World Cup, the World Test Championship and retained the Ashes in England.(ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

“The conventional wisdom is you’ve got to bat in the final, whereas I think the last five ODI finals have been won by the team bowling first,” he told 7.30‘s Sarah Ferguson.

“Of course, you sound out other people.

“Everyone was pretty sure it just felt like a bowling day.”

It was also conventional wisdom that a bowler couldn’t captain Australia. Yet, this year, under his leadership, the team won the ODI World Cup, retained the Ashes and claimed the World Test Championship.

“I trust myself that when I’m out there I can work things out on the fly and the intuition’s gotten better over a couple of years,” he said.

“Whereas when I first started, I probably didn’t have as big a gut feel. And you try to over-plan and overthink things before they actually happen.”

‘Woke’ criticisms

Since taking over the captaincy, Cummins has been outspoken on social issues including climate change, the Yes vote in the Voice to Parliament referendum, and his team took a knee during the Black Lives Matter movement – which sparked backlash and claims from critics that he had become “too woke”.

But he feels emboldened by the negative responses.

“If I don’t stay strong on this and I pander to a loud minority, that’s not a good thing,” he said.

Cummins admits the criticism takes a toll.

Pat Cummins speaking at a press conference.

Pat Cummins has faced criticism for speaking out on social issues.(ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

“I think you’d be lying if you said it doesn’t,” he said.

“I think you’ve got to find ways to manage it just like you manage your body as a professional athlete.

“You’re not on an island. You can’t just say, ‘I want to play cricket in front of millions of people’ but also ‘I don’t want anyone to have an opinion on me’. That’s not what we sign up for.

“As long as I know I’ve got great relationships with teammates, family – they know who I am. I know who I am.”

Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins standing with the ICC World Cup trophy.

Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins with the ICC World Cup trophy. (ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

Cummins credits his family for keeping him grounded and “community-minded”.

“Mum and dad were always trying to remind us how lucky we are to live in this country and have all the opportunities that we have, but also how we’re just one small, little part of a very big world – and make sure we open our eyes,” he told 7.30.

Amid his professional success, it’s been a bittersweet year for Cummins, who lost his mother Maria to breast cancer in March this year – news that triggered an outpouring of support from the cricket world, including a tribute from the Barmy Army.

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The captain had left the Australian team in India between the second and third Tests of the tour to be with his mother, and had shared the Barmy Army’s video with her.

“She loved it,” he said.

“Cricket’s been a big part of our family forever, and to see the respect and love shown from our oldest rivals, it was really special.

“I think about her every day – she’s seen a lot of successes before this year and she’s a huge part of who I am, and I’m sure she would have been really proud.”

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