29 Oct 2018

Cricket Australia contributed to ball tampering scandal review finds

5:24 pm on 29 October 2018

An independent review of Cricket Australia has delivered a scathing report on the governance and culture of the organisation.

The review described Australia's players as living in a "gilded bubble - disconnected, for much of each year, from families, friends and the grounding influence of community".

Steve Smith, left, captain of Australia with team mate David Warner.

Steve Smith, left, captain of Australia with team mate David Warner. Photo: AFP

They see themselves as being part of a "machine that is fine-tuned for the sole purpose of winning", the review said.

The review was commissioned in the aftermath of the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in March. Captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner received 12-month bans while Cameron Bancroft has two months remaining on his nine-month ban.

"I think potentially for a little bit, we got a little bit wrapped up in our own self-importance," Test captain Tim Paine said at a media conference.

"We're the lucky ones playing for Australia. It's not our cricket team, it's Australia's cricket team, and I think for a little while, we lost that."

Paine said it is clear to players what the country expects of them as representatives of the country.

"We know what's right and we know what's wrong. We know what Australian cricket expects of us. And we'll be holding each other accountable," he said.

"So if it does happen or it does start to get out of control, it won't just be me, it will be a number of guys who know where we sit on that and how far we go and where we don't go."

Australian cricket captain Tim Paine.

Australian cricket captain Tim Paine. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The key recommendation from the review is that the leadership of CA accept its share of the responsibility for the circumstances that gave rise to the ball-tampering incident at Newlands.

CA, in a written response to the recommendation, accepted its portion of the blame and indicated its wish to improve the game of cricket in Australia.

The report found that CA is perceived to be "arrogant and controlling", the consensus being that the organisation does not live up to its values, further accusing CA of not handling situations which go against them well by reverting to "bullying tactics or worse, ostracising".

The report states that in some cases players are required to "play the mongrel", with the risk of becoming that person.

Several of the review's recommendations refer to placing increased focus and value on the character of players in addition to their cricket ability.

The review recommends that a player's character must be taken into account during the selection process.

One part of the report which documents contributing factors and early warning signs points to the "win-at-all-costs" mentality resulting in players and support staff to "redefine" certain forms of cheating as just "playing hard to win".

It states that poor on-field and off-field behaviour was tolerated by CA, including abusive sledging of opponents and disrespect of umpires.

CA chairman David Peever said the organisation decided, in the wake of the scandal, that the review was in the best interests of the game.

"I want to say again, and I've said it before, that as chairman of the board of Cricket Australia, I accept responsibility for what happened in South Africa, but I'm also very confident that we're positioned to move forward from here. We've learnt many lessons," he said.

"The central theme of the report is that we implemented the high-performance plan according to the review diligently. And in the process of that, we probably didn't put as much emphasis as we should have on the spirit of the game, the game's ethos."

The report recommends that just like the AFL's Brownlow Medal, accolades such as the Allan Border Medal should take into account a player's character and behaviour as well as their performance.

The review recommends that players penalised for poor on-field behaviour should not be eligible as recipients for major awards.

The report also recommends changes to the role of co-captain, which it terms as being that of an "heir apparent" to the captaincy. It states that the captain should be able to rely on the loyal support of a vice-captain.

Rivals for role of captain should be given other leadership opportunities.

In a written response, CA says it will review its selection responsibilities in response to this.


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