Cricket Australia chairman David Peever must step down or be sacked. Peever’s tone-deaf response to the release of a scathing report into the culture and management of CA explicitly demonstrates the very same arrogance and lack of accountability called out by the report. He fails to see, or rather refuses to acknowledge, that his chairmanship is material to the organisation’s problems.
Seven months ago, Australian cricket fans were shocked and angered by the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa. They demanded blood and CA reacted swiftly. Within days, it announced hefty 12-month bans for captain Smith and deputy Warner who returned home to make gut-wrenching public apologies. A tearful coach Lehmann resigned soon after. Peever and CEO James Sutherland said they too would take their share of accountability, commissioning an inquiry into the incident as part of a wider organisational review of CA. What’s happened since?
Despite receiving a report slamming its management for fostering the toxic win-at-all-costs culture that spawned the tampering, CA has renewed and promoted two of its most senior executives. Chairman Peever was reappointed for a second term, just days before the report findings were released. And Chief Operating Officer Kevin Roberts was promoted to CEO following the resignation of Sutherland who said his departure was not driven by the South Africa debacle.
ABC TV host Leigh Sales spoke for many bewildered observers when she asked Peever why he felt he should stay on as chairman. The response from the former Rio Tinto boss was as damning as any of the report’s 145 pages. He described the ball tampering as a “hiccup” and said cricket was, by almost any measure, in a very good place. When Sales persisted, there were more platitudes but little sign of contrition. Let’s not dwell on the negatives, he said. We’ve commissioned the report and we’ll act on the findings. We’re moving forward. Would CA review the severity of the player’s penalties? No, the suspensions will stand.
So, David, let’s get this straight. It’s acceptable for two senior players to be stood down for a year, to lose millions in contractual fees over a “hiccup”, while you admit no personal culpability for the findings of a credible independent report, commissioned by your own organisation, condemning its leadership on multiple levels? It’s acceptable for you and your board to appoint as CEO a central figure in the bullying deplored by the report and the Cricketers Association. Well, in my view, that’s simply not acceptable. Australian cricket deserves better and it’s time for you to move on.
This is yet another example of top-level sports administrators losing sight of the values of the sports in their care. In this instance, putting the ethics of fair play to the sword of corporatism. Warner, Smith and fellow player Bancroft cheated, lied and paid the penalty, as they should. Peever and Roberts patently failed in many aspects of their well-remunerated roles but have instead been rewarded. Surely that’s not cricket.