An independent review, set to deliver plenty of harsh truths to Cricket Australia, may yet be closed off from public view, even as the director Mark Taylor admitted that the organisation needed to make substantial changes to win back public trust and prevent the game from stagnating.
Taylor, part of the CA subcommittee that elected to hire The Ethics Centre to conduct the review, said that the Board may choose only to release its recommendations rather than allow a public examination of the research conducted by its chief architect Simon Longstaff. Transparency has increasingly been an issue for CA in recent years, summed up on Friday by the revelations of Bob Every’s resignation from the board, in protest at the chairman David Peever’s intention to continue for another three-year term.
When it happened, Every’s exit from the board was officially paralleled to Kevin Roberts leaving his directorship to become a senior executive, or Michael Kasprowicz temporarily resigning his post to serve as acting CEO of Queensland Cricket. Every’s resignation letter, and accompanying email to his fellow directors, was blunt in outlining how different this circumstance had been, as he described Peever’s performance as “substandard”.
Previous notable reviews of Australian cricket – that of team performance by Don Argus in 2011, and of CA’s governance structure, by David Crawford and Colin Carter in 2012, were released publicly in executive summary form, though specific submissions and observations of interviewees were kept private. More recently, the game endured the difficulties of the coronial inquest into the death of Phillip Hughes being played out publicly, as Hughes’ family sought closure to the matter and answers from its custodians
“I suspect there’s going to be some warts and all reporting, it comes from the Ethics Centre, it’s fully independent,” Taylor told Channel Nine. “We are going to get stuff that’s going to dredge up stuff from the players pay dispute from last year, TV rights negotiations, we’ve got a new CEO coming on, it’ll be very juicy. But do we want to go back and have a look at all this stuff from the last 18 months, which has, to be honest, been quite tumultuous?
“We won’t censor it. I think we’ve either got to put it out there, or use what is recommended by the Ethics Centre. That’s my opinion: we’ve either got to say, ‘it’s all out there, warts and all’, or put out what he recommended we should do going forward, because to me, that’s the key. It’s about what we can do in the future to make the game better, not necessarily what we’ve done wrong in the past.”
In terms of the governing body’s recovery from recent misadventures, Taylor said that changes in behaviour at both playing and administrative levels needed to be clear to all. “[We win the fans back] by making changes. To me, this is a bit of an opportunity,” he said. “No doubt cricket’s gone through the ringer in the last 18 months. We’ve had all sorts of problems, not just with sandpapergate, MoU negotiations, a CEO who’s moving on in the next 12 months, it’s been a very tumultuous time.
“People want to see us play and administer the game the right way, and do it better than what we have done, and I agree we have to do it. That’s where I think players and administrators have to start working closely together to get it right for the future.”
In the aftermath of the ball-tampering scandal, CA was able to sign a A$1.18 billion broadcast rights deal with News Corporation and the Seven Network, giving the administration plenty of money to play with over the next six years. However, this windfall will need to be allied to regaining public trust – a process Taylor said was vital to maintaining cricket’s dominance of the Australian summer months.
“We’re very lucky that we’ve got very loyal fans out there and we’ve got a sport that doesn’t have rugby league, AFL and soccer as genuine competition,” Taylor said. “We still own summer, and we’ve got to make sure we make it better and better for the fans.
“It’s given us a real moment in time to hang on and reflect that look, we’ve got three good players, two of them outstanding players, who aren’t going to be playing until April next year. That rocks everybody, including people like myself, former players and administrators, rocks us all. No-one’s enjoying what’s happened in the game of cricket to Steve Smith, David Warner and Cam Bancroft, but we’ve got to make sure we learn some lessons from it, not just players but administrators as well.”