4 April 2018 Comments 5

You all know my thoughts about the recent ball tampering scandal in Aussie cricket. I wrote about it here; as well as for Huff Post.

I’ve gotta say – this has been a long time coming. The ball tampering scandal isn’t the problem; it’s a symptom.

The real problem?

The management of Cricket Australia starting with the Chairman of the Board, David Peever, the other Board members, and the longstanding CEO, James Sutherland.

It was evident again in their management of this issue.

Remember, James Sutherland’s initial reaction on the Sunday when it broke? It was to talk about a “full investigation” that required time. When he said that, Sutherland hadn’t even spoken to the captain, Steve Smith, who had already admitted to what had happened with Cameron Bancroft at a media conference earlier in the day.

But it’s no surprise because the relationship between management and players is totally dysfunctional – dating back to the players’ dispute that finally ended last year, which I talked about in my earlier post.

What Sutherland should have done was:

(1)        Immediately phoned Steve Smith to find out who exactly was involved;

(2)        Immediately send back those involved to Australia, regardless of their status in the team;

(3)        Announce the forfeiture of the Third Test due to inability to field a full team.

That would have demonstrated to the world that such behaviour was not in keeping with cricket’s much-lauded, but often-absent, values.

What we need now is a truly independent investigation of the game, similar to what the Australian Cricketers’ Association is calling for.

The culture of the playing group is one thing. But as anyone knows, culture starts at the top, and Cricket Australia Board and management is where such an investigation and wholesale change to its culture has to start.

The culture in the playing group didn’t just happen by itself.

While I think James Sutherland has been in the job too long and it’s time for change, David Peever is a different kettle of fish.

He came into the role as Chairman with his 1970s union-busting tactics. It might have worked in the mining industry; it didn’t work with cricket’s pay dispute. He wrought so much damage last year, he should have fallen on his sword when it was such a failure.

Peever, his Board and Sutherland MUST accept responsibility for their roles in creating the toxic environment that has existed for quite some time. Let’s be frank: we’ve all read about, and not said anything much, as the Australian cricket team has gone about their winning ways – where winning is everything and the real values of cricket have been cast aside.

Sledging and abhorrent behaviour have not just been tolerated but, I would argue, encouraged.

Finally, there can be no more telling indictment of the failure of leadership within the Board and management of Cricket Australia than how they dealt with Steve Smith.

Smith admitted he did the wrong. We know he’s copped the 12-month ban.

But where was Cricket Australia when Smith held his media conference on returning to Australia? Where was their support for the young man’s well-being?

What Smith, Warner and Bancroft admitted to doing was wrong. But you don’t hang your players out to deal with the consequences alone. Peever and Sutherland could have, and should have, expressed their disappointment, their lack of tolerance for what happened; but they also should have been standing by the side of the players as they fronted the media.

Smith’s, Warner’s and Bancroft’s failure is Cricket Australia’s failure. And, more than anyone, that means David Peever and James Sutherland.

Peever’s and Sutherland’s actions were not inadequate leadership. They were no leadership.

Australian cricket deserves better.


  1. Guy Pease on 5 April 2018

    That’s the best description of the Australian situation that has yet been offered by ANYONE anywhere. Congratulations, trust it will not be a long wait before actions are taken which give us a chance to recover our reputation in international cricket and our rightful ranking, achieved by FAIR PLAY through hard but not indecent behaviour. It’s never too late, but what a pity someone didn’t show leadership a good few years ago.

  2. Brenton on 5 April 2018

    Jaimie, you are 100% correct with this article & I concur completely.
    I, like most Australians, am completely disgusted with the hierarchy of Cricket Australia and the way they have handled this whole process. Like all organisations, there are excellent people working within the CA organisation however, those at the top have been abysmal and deserve there own sanctions.
    The whole organisations needs a giant broom.
    Keep up the good fight.
    Keep up the great fight

  3. Alan on 5 April 2018

    Very well said, agree with every word

  4. Matt Gill on 5 April 2018

    I toured Australia in 1994/5 with my school at a time when winning the Ashes was a dream. What I took home was hard-nosed play that everyone in England was lacking in the game at every level and Australia was the blueprint for being a cricket nation. When hard-nosed has become a culture of bullying I am not sure but that appears to be the case to an outsider but the simple act of picking on the youngest/most naive/vulnerable player to carry out the donkey work is the saddest part for me.
    The whole episode spanks of a failure of management where young men are thrust in the limelight and expected to perform. I obviously can’t say what support there has been for Smith in the background but it appears the idea of “keep winning and no one will ask any questions” has been all-pervading which is also sad. Warner has been a devastating talent since he burst onto the scene but his personality and behaviour appears so abrasive that he becomes a parody of the player he could be. I do not enjoy watching Smith bat in any way but the is no shortage of opportunity to do just that, a man picked as a second rate leggie is now far and away the most consistent run maker at the very top level. This in itself I find to be his most endearing story.
    Bancrofts part in this sorry tale could have been played by any of the recent revolving-door selections who are desperate to be seen to make the grade.
    I am sorry to see this fundamental lack of support and leadership play out with young men in front of the audiences world wide. As a final note from an older player often accused of being behind the times myself, how stupid do you need to be to think your every move on an international pitch would NOT be televised?

  5. Neil M Bennett on 6 April 2018

    Hi Jaimie,

    I do agree with the issues you have identified and you are bang on the money in your analysis. I also love your point re Smithy’s well-being and the media etc.

    The leadership issues here are enormous and not the captains alone.

    What CA need to do is live and breath leadership throughout the organisation as do the All Blacks and the most successful companies.

    There are many differing leadership views, philosophies etc. but only one methodology that combines all of them.

    Until they want to really address the issues, they are applying band aids to a much bigger problem.

    Together with your insightful experience and background as Chairman/CEO level and my international experience in executing leadership change and the all encompassing Leadership Eye we could really set CA on the path to recovery.