Cricket Australia accepts responsibility for slipping standards, but it must be held to account
David Peever was able to consistently sidestep questions on whether heads should roll. (AAP: Penny Stephens)
In the lacerating examination of Cricket Australia and its role in the ball-tampering affair, there is one glaring omission: Who is accountable?
In a document that describes the governing organisation as “arrogant” and “controlling”, of “pursing winning without counting the costs”, without the balance of “an equal commitment to moral courage and ethical restraint,” of using condescending language towards women, of treating players as commodities, of bullying and ostracising employees, it is the question demanding an answer.
And flowing on from that: Why is it only Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft who have been punished?
Those questions are key, because the Longstaff review into the culture of Australian cricket specifically lays a portion of the blame right at the door of Cricket Australia, for establishing a culture that put winning above everything.
Report author Simon Longstaff writes: “Below the surface, there is a web of influences — including of intentions gone awry — that made ball tampering more likely than not. Responsibility for that larger picture lies with CA and not just the players.”
Which is why the key recommendation in the Longstaff review is number 19: “The leadership of CA accepts its share of responsibility for the circumstances that gave rise to the ball-tampering incident at Newlands — not as a matter of direct, personal culpability, but as a demonstration of responsible leadership and accountability.”
Recommending CA accept responsibility is one thing. Recommending that members of the leadership team, be it the chairman, board members, or members of the executive be held accountable, is something different altogether.
Which is why the chairman of Cricket Australia, David Peever, was able yesterday to consistently accept responsibility for the events at Cape Town, but was also able to consistently sidestep questions on whether heads should roll.
Was he embarrassed?
“Not at all. Because I’m … associated with something that is so important to Australia and that I feel very, very committed to,” he said.
Would he step down?
“I serve at the pleasure of the board,” he said.
His steadfastness comes as others call for his head, including the former chief executive of Cricket Australia and the International Cricket Council, Malcolm Speed:
“Australian cricket can do better in choosing its chairman and the game deserves better governance, the game deserves better leadership,” he said.
Leadership questions highlight flawed CA thinking
David Warner, captain Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft were caught in the middle of the ball-tampering scandal. (Reuters/ABC)
The questions about leadership raise a logical flaw in Cricket Australia’s reasoning.
If Cricket Australia is partly to blame for the ball-tampering scandal, why do the one-year penalties for Smith and Warner and the nine-month ban for Bancroft stand?
The calls are now coming thick and fast for the bans to be reviewed led by Australian Cricketers’ Association president Greg Dyer:
“There is now independent verification that the system and culture were contributing factors (to the ball-tampering incident),” Mr Dwyer said.
“Basic fairness demands these independently verified contributing factors must now be taken into consideration and the penalties reduced.”
And yet asked about the bans, Mr Peever said: “The sanctions stand as I said several weeks ago.”
He did not elaborate on how that decision was made, but it raises more questions:
How could Cricket Australia reach a conclusion on the severity of the bans before it had the final report?
And if the Cricket Australia had a draft report, did it choose to ignore the findings that clearly states the organisation played a role in what happened?
And if it had a draft report — why was it given forewarning of an independent report?
Mr Peever and the organisation he leads, have so far played a dead bat to the examination it has received. But Cricket Australia will most certainly face more spells of hostile bowling.
It’s a question of accountability.