It’s just not cricket

30 October 2018 Comments 0

Back in April, an occasionally wise man wrote this:

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

Guess what? It was me! 🙂

For those of you who follow cricket, and Australian cricket at that, you will be aware that never has such a statement proven to be so correct.

Yet here we are, more than six months later, and despite an independent review saying that the problem with Aussie cricket starts at the top, absolutely nothing is going to happen.

Sure, the former longstanding CEO, James Sutherland has gone. But even before all of this happened, he was well and truly due to go.

As for the Chairman, David Peever? The nupties at Cricket Australia voted him in for another three year term only last week.

Sure, the game is in good financial health. But the financial bottom-line is not the only bottom-line here.

The review was conducted by someone I know well, Dr Simon Longstaff of The Ethics Centre. The Cricket Australia Board delayed its release, against the wishes of The Ethics Centre, until after their recent election where Peever was re-elected.

The Ethics Centre’s review involved 42 recommendations; the review team talked with 469 people working in cricket; and the report fairly and squarely points the finger of blame on the cheating scandal at the administrators.

I totally accept that the administrators were not the ones out on the field that day when Bancroft, Warner and Smith did what they did.

But most people who have observed Australian cricket in action over the past ten years or more also knows that the culture of the organisation was such that it is a ‘winning at all costs’ attitude.

The Ethics Centre report found that there is a culture of bullying at the Cricket Australia head office – a culture so bad that it is ignored.

The report notes that the most common words used to describe the organisation are “arrogant” and “controlling”. I would add ‘out of touch’.

The breach of trust that occurred with the ball-tampering incident is compared with another big issue in Australia in recent months, involving a massive failure of leadership and breach of trust between citizens and the major financial institutions.

And if you think that’s not enough, the report noted that the senior executives received $1.9 million in bonuses in a single year.

The report also showed that in a 360 degree cultural survey, the only group that thought the Cricket Australia Board and senior executives lived up to its Values and Principles were …. you guessed it, the Board and senior executives! And because Peever was re-elected as Chairman, and replaced the outgoing CEO with an internal candidate who is known to be a Peever favourite, the very people who are fingered by Simon Longstaff as being the arrogant and dictatorial ones, are those who are supposed to fix it.

You couldn’t make it up.

Was the Chairman embarrassed by any of this?

Not at all. While he said he “accepts responsibility” for the ball-tampering incident in South Africa, he nonetheless thinks everything else is hunky-dory and we should just move on.

If Peever really accepted responsibility, he wouldn’t have delayed release of the report until after his election and, frankly, he would have walked.

It reminds me of the time when Sepp Blatter got up at a press conference and, in response to pressing questions from UK and German journalists on his failing FIFA, said ‘Crisis, what crisis?’ Perhaps someone could remind Peever that it didn’t end too well for Blatter.

The bigger point is this: what makes sports administrators so impervious to what we ordinary people think about their sport, and they way the conduct its business and shape its culture?

This Cricket Australia case is ‘just not cricket’, as they say.

To be fair, it’s also ‘not just cricket’. Other sports – local, regional and international – are similar if not the same and have case studies of their own. It shows just how much those of us who care about sport, and about how it’s conducted and how decisions are made, must keep chipping away, calling sporting organisations to account, and speaking truth to power.

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