After Test captain Tim Paine, it’s now the turn of Australia’s deputy (in Test cricket) Pat Cummins to respond to the charges made by former Australia skipper Michael Clarke over the less competitive nature of its country’s cricketers during India’s 2018-19 tour Down Under. Cummins defended the allegations by saying that the players were playing ‘less aggressively’ because of the repercussions of the ball-tampering scandal which dented the image of Australia’s cricketing fabric.

Clarke recently raised eyebrows with his bold comments when he stated that the Australian players were scared to sledge India in a bid to save their Indian Premier League (IPL) contracts. He feels hence, the Australians ‘sucked up’ to Kohli & his team. The India series was only the second Test series after the ball-tampering controversy that led to Steve Smith and David Warner’s suspensions and overall criticism of their win at all cost mentality.

“I think probably a bigger factor was six months before leading into that Indian series the media and everyone commentating on the Aussie cricket team were pretty clear in their direction in the way they wanted the Aussies team to go and that was playing a little bit less aggressively out on the field,” Cummins, who was supposed to be IPL’s highest paid overseas player at Rs 15. 5 crore, was quoted by BBC.

However, the 26-year-old Cummins didn’t rule out that some players might have harboured thoughts about Clarke’s assumption that they “sucked up to” Indian skipper Kohli in fear of losing out on IPL paychecks.

“I’d say that would have been a bigger factor than trying to win or lose friends out on the cricket field. But you never know, that might have been a factor for some players.”

Earlier, Australia skipper Paine also rubbished Clarke’s claims, saying the Australian cricket team avoided provoking ‘any fight’ with Kohli as part of their strategy to keep the Indian captain’s bat quiet and not a ploy to save IPL contracts.

“I’m not sure who was going easy on him; we certainly had a thing where we didn’t want to provoke any fight with him because we think that’s when he plays at his best,” Paine was quoted by ESPNCricinfo.