We need new culture and fresh faces at the helm of cricket
SINCE its release last week, the independent report by The Ethics Centre into the culture of Cricket Australia — A Matter of Balance — has caused consternation across Australia’s cricketing community.
That’s understandable, given both the damning nature of much of the report and the reputational damage inflicted on both the game and on wider Australia (at least, across the cricket-loving Commonwealth) by the Cape Town ball tampering incident in March which prompted this inquiry.
A direct line can be drawn between that damage and the prevailing governance culture of Cricket Australia — as A Matter of Balance explains through the lens of applied ethics, its authors’ speciality.
A Matter of Balance runs to 147 pages and includes 41 turn- this-corner recommendations — none of which seem unwise, some of which may need tweaking to be workable. These recommendations focus on enabling positive change for Australian cricket, and within Cricket Australia as its custodian institution, which dates back to the founding of the Australasian Cricket Council in 1892. That was before a cluster of British colonies federated to become the nation that is Australia.
This heritage may explain some of the responses to the report, however — featuring ongoing internecine rivalries between the personalities of the state offices of Cricket Australia, and an excruciating delay between the report’s release and the following Thursday’s resignation of David Peever as chairman. In the end, Peever exited just a heartbeat after his reappointment on a $200,000 annual stipend.
As Gideon Haigh pointed out in The Weekend Australian, a core complaint identified in A Matter of Balance was that the organisation does not respect anyone other than its own.
To many contemporary Australians, this unsavoury flavour of entitlement translates as a version of born to rule, and his reaction wasn’t a good look.
So, out with Peever and in with … whom, and what? Haigh rightly recommends the next chairman should come from outside the membership of the current board.
Well, yes. For the sake of their own reputations as responsible candidates for future governance roles, as well as the health of the game. Mark Taylor’s resignation leads the way.
Every board meeting is an opportunity to challenge the prevailing leadership attitude as much as reinforce it — constructively — and A Matter of Balance represents a collective F-minus on that scorecard. There’s now a case for resignation of every sitting board member of Cricket Australia. And also for a reconsideration of the positions of its senior executives nationally — including after the smaller recent scandal afflicting Cricket Tasmania in relation to its sacking of Angela Williamson, not part of The Ethics Centre’s brief. That might feel like a revolution to some, but if managed stepwise it would go a long way to restoring the confidence of the
There’s now a case for a new team on the board of Cricket Australia, writes Natasha Cica
public and many players in Cricket Australia.
One model is the half-spill of Australia’s Senate each electoral cycle, a key part of Australia’s federal political compact and governance balance.
An example further afield is the mass resignation in 2002 of the Dutch government headed by prime minister Wim Kok, after a report by the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation concluded it had put prestige before planning in its botched response to protecting civilians at Srebrenica in the Bosnian war seven years earlier. Cricket, of course — even for its total tragics — is no question of life and death. But as the mortified mass reaction to the Cape Town debacle showed, it’s clearly still one of our most established, loved and potentially unifying national pastimes. With a nod to not dissimilar leadership crises at the helm of other long-trusted and widely respected Australian institutions like the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Federal Liberal Party, Cricket Australia is perhaps uniquely placed to demonstrate best practice in transforming the hobbling gilded bubble mentality criticised in A Matter of Balance.
Here we should embark on deeper reform. A Matter of Balance repeatedly emphasises that the faults it finds do not apply to women’s cricket, and identifies a need to cultivate more gender (and other) diversity within the culture of Cricket Australia. That’s shorthand for folding in more of what George Megalogenis — whose latest book The Football Solution unpacks AFL football — has identified as Gen W, meaning women and wogs (read: not male, pale and stale) of demonstrable merit who represent a critical mass of contemporary Australia’s talent pool. We need to get smarter about playing to win — and a growing body of evidence shows real diversity in governance delivers better results.
At the end of the day, that’s just a matter of balance.
Dr Natasha Cica is director of change consultancy Kapacity.org. She was chief executive of Heide Museum of Modern Art and founding director of the Inglis Clark Centre at the University of Tasmania.