An independent review of Cricket Australia by the Ethics Centre has exposed the board as ‘arrogant’ and ‘controlling’.
The review was led by Dr Simon Longstaff as well as a player review by former Test batsman Rick McCosker. The assessment results were revealed on Monday and bold statements were made about the running of CA.
The review suggested that CA’s leadership groups were overwhelmingly business-focused and in that drive, forgot how to abide by the spirit of the game in their blinding hunger to win.
Ultimately, the origin of this mindset traced back to 2011 when the Argus review emphasised the introduction of more corporate structures and goals. The board’s negligence of the spirit of cricket in their 2017-2022 strategy is being highlighted as one of the main reasons for the ball-tampering scandal against South Africa.
Parallels have been drawn between CA’s corporate dealings with stakeholders and sponsors and the sandpapergate incident that implied that Cameron Bancroft was bullied by David Warner and Steve Smith to use sandpaper to gain reverse swing in Cape Town in March.
The review highlighted some of the messages present in their code that prove how CA operates: ‘command and control’, ‘only results matter’, ‘high performance is what we are here for’, ‘Australia needs us to win’, ‘individual first’, and ‘combativeness and aggression is good’.
According to the review, as quoted by ESPNcricinfo, Australian cricket has ‘lost its balance’ and ‘stumbled badly’.
‘The reputation of the game of cricket, as played by men, has been tainted. Women’s cricket remains unaffected,’ the review states in its executive summary.
‘The leadership of CA should also accept responsibility for its inadvertent [but foreseeable] failure to create and support a culture in which the will to win was balanced by an equal commitment to moral courage and ethical restraint.
‘While good intentions might reduce culpability – they do not lessen [sic] responsibility … especially not for those who voluntarily take on the mantle of leadership.
‘In our opinion, CA’s fault is not that it established a culture of “win at all costs”,’ the review states. ‘Rather, it made the fateful mistake of enacting a program that would lead to “winning without counting the costs”.
‘It is this approach that has led, inadvertently, to the situation in which cricket finds itself today – for good and for ill. It has also given rise to a series of “shadow values and principles” – a set of implicit norms that are often driving conduct that is at odds with the requirements of CA’s formal ethical framework, How We Play, and the Spirit of Cricket.’
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