Cricket Australia (CA) has responded to a damning independent review published on Monday that described the organisation as “arrogant” and “controlling”.
The organisational review was commissioned following the ball-tampering scandal that plagued the game earlier this year.
The review – led by Simon Longstaff from The Ethics Centre – blasted the governance and culture of the cricketing organisation and said CA is partly to blame for star players Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft cheating in South Africa in March. Smith and Warner each received 12-month bans from the game, while Bancroft was banned for nine months.
The review made 42 recommendations and said CA is largely perceived as “arrogant and controlling” and that it’s an organisation that doesn’t live up to its values. It also found CA could revert to bullying tactics to get its way.
“The most common description of CA is as ‘arrogant’ and ‘controlling’,” the report read. “The core complaint is that the organisation does not respect anyone other than its own. Players feel that they are treated as commodities.
“There is a feeling amongst some state and territory associations that they are patronised while sponsors believe their value is defined solely in transactional terms.”
Players were described as living in a “gilded bubble” and while they’re blessed with wealth and privilege, they’re cursed with being away from loved ones, isolation and exposure to cut-throat competition “which is unforgiving of poor performance”. They also saw themselves as being part of a “machine that is fine-tuned” with the purpose of simply winning matches.
The report made a number of serious recommendations, including focusing on more than a player’s character rather than just their cricketing ability. The report found CA let poor behaviour both on and off the field slip, citing cases of disrespect to umpires and other players in the form of sledging.
The report recommended players be penalised for bad on-field behaviour and that those who failed to meet the game’s character standards shouldn’t be eligible to win major awards, such as the Allan Border Medal. Other recommendations include a cricketing ethics commission being established and changes to the current performance bonus scheme.
“There’s no doubt that the ball-tampering incident in South Africa was extremely regrettable and caused distress across our country,” Cricket Australia Chairman David Peever said in a statement. “It has been a difficult and confronting time for everyone involved in Australian Cricket, and for that I am sorry. Mistakes have been made, lessons have been learnt, and changes are and will continue to take place.”
He said CA’s response to the ball-tampering saga was tough and that the organisation acted swiftly and decisively. He also explained it voluntarily commissioned the independent organisational review and that CA was releasing the review in full for the public to read.
Peever also said it has been difficult to read and agree with some of what’s been implied, but that CA respects the findings of the review and what needs to be done.
“The review includes various assessments that inform 42 recommendations, and CA is already well advanced in some areas with more than half of the recommendations in development or already implemented before we commissioned the review,” he said. “Having considered the recommendations, CA is committing to enacting and exploring further the recommendations and actioning where appropriate.”
Meanwhile, Australia men’s Test captain Tim Paine said at a press conference on Monday that he wants players to be recognised as role models.
“We’ll compete hard but fair but always in the spirit of the game,” he said. “To sit here and blame people isn’t going to help anyone. This is about the future.”