Calls to lift the ban on David Warner and other players for ball tampering are unrealistic. Picture: Jenny Evans
Calls to lift the ban on David Warner and other players for ball tampering are unrealistic. Picture: Jenny Evans

Cricket’s problems aren’t fixed by chairman quitting

CRICKET Australia's problems haven't been swept away by chairman David Peever's resignation.

We all knew he had to go, because if the organisation doesn't get itself together, the playing side is lost. One flows from the other. He needed to see that and it seems he has.

But despite that inevitability, it's still a bad look for cricket in this country. There was a time - immediately after the cheating in South Africa - that I thought things couldn't get any worse for Cricket Australia (And yes, I'm calling it cheating because "ball tampering" sounds like a tactic).

But this week Cricket Australia released a report by ethicist Simon Longstaff called Australian Cricket - A Matter Of Balance and it revealed that CA had lost its balance. Horrendously.

The report won't help the players, but it left Peever with few options. Now it must be decided whether the entire board should go and give us the clean slate many people believe Australian cricket needs.

The report drew on about 480 responses to a survey sent to more than 800 people in May and June this year. That included CA executives and employees, current and former players, sponsors and media organisations. The report looked into whether a "win at all costs" culture existed at CA.

It found CA had created a culture of "winning without counting the costs" and said "it is this approach that has led, inadvertently, to the situation in which cricket finds itself today - for good and for ill. It has also given rise to a series of 'shadow values and principles' - a set of implicit norms that are often driving conduct that is at odds with the requirements of CA's formal Ethical Framework, How We Play and The Spirit of Cricket".

Clearly those requirements weren't followed in South Africa.

The release has led to a call for Steve Smith and Dave Warner - banned for 12 months - and Cameron Bancroft - banned for nine months - to have their sentences reduced.

The argument goes that if the culture at CA was responsible, the three players were just implementing a method of operating forced on them from higher up.

Essentially, they were like soldiers following orders. Their sentences certainly appear to have taken into account their moral culpability. Bancroft - the most junior - received the smallest penalty even though he was the one who tampered with the ball.

So if that's the case, people argue, shouldn't their bans be reduced? They were just following the culture.

Would they have received the same penalty if the report was around at the time of the offence? Probably not. But I don't think that means they should get a shorter ban.

They were at fault. Accept it and move on.

Under the player code of conduct - which has legal effect because of the players' contracts - Smith, Warner and Bancroft had the chance to disagree with their sentence and invoke a process to review it. But they accepted it. There is no realistic option to reopen the case.

That's the situation from the players' side.

But the CA board? I think the report means the entire board should go, right now.

For a start it was questionable that just over a week ago (and three days before the public release of the report), Peever was reappointed for another three-year term.

There have been calls for Cameron Bancroft, Steve Smith and David Warner to have their bans from playing cricket reduced, but they have already accepted their penalties. Picture: AFP
There have been calls for Cameron Bancroft, Steve Smith and David Warner to have their bans from playing cricket reduced, but they have already accepted their penalties. Picture: AFP

That afternoon, after the AGM, the state cricket associations who vote for the chairman were given a copy of the report. That's right: first they voted and then they were given the report.

A spokesman for CA told me this week that the timing of the release of the report was unrelated to the timing of CA's AGM. But it was another bad look for the organisation.

I bet Peever wouldn't have been reappointed if the state representatives had seen the report and that might well have played a part in yesterday's decision.

But here's why all members of the board should consider their positions. The report found the most common description of CA was "arrogant" and "controlling" and that "the organisation does not respect anyone other than its own".

Perhaps that is the reason for the falling out with the Australian Cricketers' Association. Either way, it is telling that the report showed the board didn't have any insight into CA's failings. It said: "With the exception of CA's own board and senior executives, the broad consensus among stakeholders is that CA does not consistently 'live' its values and principles."

That's a huge condemnation of everyone concerned.

Board members must always put the organisation first. If the entire board were to resign now, it would send a message to the Australian public that CA has learned its lesson and that things will change. The onus is on the board to do the right thing. Clean the slate.

Cricket is too important to Australians for it to limp along like it is at the moment.

The report is certainly succinct on this matter: "Cricket has a chance to set a better example - and in doing so, to remediate much of the harm caused by the incident at Newlands. Whether or not it takes up this option is a matter for the individuals concerned to determine."

Justin Quill is a media lawyer with Macpherson Kelley Lawyers which act for the Herald Sun. He has been on the Board of Cycling Australian and Canoeing Australia.

@justinquill