Overs 1.5 - "Peeved" and you should be!

There has never been a period in Australian cricket history such as the one they are faced with today. The substandard results on the pitch by the men's cricket team and the absolute shambles off it have made Australian cricket a laughing stock. Whilst the signs of the derailment were present for a long period of time, Cricket Australia (CA) failed to acknowledge them. And I am peeved. Admittedly there would have been a time where I would lap up these state of affairs, but inherently I have always respected and admired the talented Australian cricket outfit and the tenacious nature of their cricket.

David Peever, former chairman of CA handed in his resignation only a few days after being re-elected for a second term. I promised to myself after blogging live the Capetown controversy, that I will never resurface that incident again. Such was my disappointment as a passionate cricket follower. But since that incident, CA have lost their captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner, coach Darren Lehmann, CEO James Sutherland, manager of team performance Pat Howard who will be stepping down in 2019 and now Peever. The impact of the ball-tampering saga has been colossal, however, things have been brewing for a while now.

CA had lost sight of the fabric of the game. Cricket is a gentlemen's game and those that play it are judged by upholding the spirit of the game. In being absorbed with the "win-at-all-costs" mentality, CA have lost the support of the players and more importantly the people that support it. Even though it is the players that face the music due to some of the poor behaviour they have dished out, the buck starts and stops with the poor management and leadership of the governing body in this country. The Longstaff review conducted due to current mismanagement found that "Australian cricket has lost its balance...the reputation of the game of cricket, as played by men, has been tainted. Women's cricket remains unaffected". The report also vehemently states that the leadership of CA were responsible for the imbalance created by their ruthless desire to win and a sheer disregard of moral and ethical responsibility.

These issues have been prevalent well before the ball-tampering saga and could have been nipped in the bud but CA chose to sweep it under the carpet. Since the Argus review in 2011 on team performance, Australia's on-field performances had improved including clinching their fifth World Cup championship at home and convincing winners in last Ashes series. Furthermore, the success of the BBL competition, the increased exposure to women's cricket, the growth of WBBL and game-changing broadcast deals were part of their impressive resume. But instead of speaking about these incredible achievements, the general public are smothered with the ineptness of CA and the constant histrionics associated with the men's cricket team.

As many experts have pointed out, these reviews are well and good but unless there is a change in the conformist and elitist style of management, CA will continue to be a fragmented organisation. The statement by Peever about not being embarrassed by the results of the findings and the appointment of Kevin Roberts as the chief executive highlights the massive cracks still present in the organisation's setup. Peever was elected for a second term before the state associations had a chance to appraise the Longstaff review. The end of his tenure was sealed after a short phone-call from NSW chairman John Knox. This lack of transparency has been a recurrent tale of Australian cricket. Whether it is the selection policies, the governance and cricket ambition or the much-publicised pay dispute between the cricket board and the players - the Australian cricketing public just can not catch a break. Roberts championed CA's negotiations during last year's bitter pay dispute with Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA). The review also stated that the negotiations were of "arrogant" and "aggressive" nature and contributed to the "toxic" environment both on and off the pitch. Time will tell if this is an inspired change or a case of deja vu.

If Australian cricket has to transform, the need not look too far. There is a reason that the Australian women's team is so well respected and admired across the world. Australian cricket management could do worse than build their culture around the pilaster of integrity and humility displayed by the women's cricket team. But if the recent trends are any indication then there is a fat chance that this will culminate.

Shakti GoundenComment