Australia’s largest cricket state, New South Wales, will not express public support for Cricket Australia’s current chairman David Peever and his board before further consideration of the findings of the cultural review released publicly on Monday.
The Cricket NSW board, chaired by the Credit Suisse Australia chief executive John Knox, convened for a regular meeting in Sydney on Tuesday night and discussed the release of the cultural review, which has handed down numerous highly critical findings about the culture of CA. “The CNSW Board is considering the review,” a spokesman said.
As owners of CA, the state associations have the constitutional right to sack individual directors by a two thirds vote of state delegates at an extraordinary general meeting. Should each state’s three delegates for such a meeting vote en bloc, four out of the six states would be required to carry any motion to remove a board director.
While the CEOs or chairmen of three states – Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania – have expressed support for Peever, NSW carries considerable influence as the largest of the state associations. It is also the home state of the long-serving board director Mark Taylor, who has been suggested by past administrators as the most appropriate man to take CA forward while carrying out the review’s 42 recommendations.
Western Australia, home state of the board director Bob Every who resigned in protest at Peever’s intention to continue for another three years, has also declined to say anything beyond the fact that the WACA is considering the findings of the review. Cricket Victoria, meanwhile, released a statement from its chairman Paul Barker expressing support for CA in general but not Peever specifically.
“Cricket Victoria will continue to support Cricket Australia in the delivery of the overall strategy for cricket,” Barker said, “and in the effective implementation of the Ethics Centre recommendations – as supported by Cricket Australia.”
There is consternation among the states about CA’s decision to withhold the cultural review to stakeholders until after last week’s AGM, at which Peever was re-elected for three years. Internal discussions, in which the role of the outgoing chief executive James Sutherland was placed at the heart of cultural problems, has also left some states unimpressed.
This has been underlined by the fact that it was Peever and the then lead negotiator Kevin Roberts who led the adversarial MoU dispute with the Australian Cricketers Association last year, before Sutherland was compelled to intervene and broker a compromise with a looming Test tour of Bangladesh under threat. Similarly, Peever’s public discussion of the review findings, both at a press conference in Melbourne on Monday and an interview with Leigh Sales on that night’s 7:30 current affairs program, left plenty of questions being asked about his ability to serve as frontman for the organisation.
Colin Carter, joint author of the governance review that brought the current board model into effect, said it was “completely astonishing” that the states found themselves voting for the re-election of the chairman for another three years without having access to the cultural review beforehand.
“The one thing I would say is that I am incredibly surprised that the ‘shareholders’ voted on the composition of the board before they had a chance to read the report,” Carter told The Age. “There is a legitimate debate that goes on, to what extent as you move up the chain should senior people be held accountable and even lose their jobs. That’s a debate that goes on in the banks at the moment, in the churches and the Essendon footy club a few years ago. There is a no black-and-white answer to that because the circumstances are all different and stuff like that.
“I don’t think it is possible to have a strong view that board members should be re-signed or sacked or whatever. What I do think is completely astonishing is that decisions were made about the composition of the board for the next three years before any of the people who were voting had a chance to read the assessments that were made. From a governance point of view, I think that was not correct.”
Bob Merriman, the former CA chairman, has stated bluntly that Taylor should replace Peever as chairman as soon as possible, while also slamming the findings and process of the cultural review. “I believe Mark Taylor should be the chairman tomorrow and the place should get back on its even footing, either Mark Taylor or Earl Eddings. He [Taylor] is one of the greatest captains we’ve had in our time,” Merriman told the Geelong Advertiser. “He’s been on the board for at least 10 years and has experience in what cricket people really want.
“We don’t want this kind of crappy, academic bullshit that’s been presented. We want people that know the game and know what to do with the game. I’m concerned for the game, I’m concerned for the leadership of the game. We’ve lost some good people. I don’t know how in the hell we rely upon non-cricket people to make decisions that are so important for the game. I personally think it’s a disgraceful report as to its quality, I’ve read it in detail.
“I think the wisest thing that’s happened is James Sutherland has decided to retire rather than put up with this kind of crap. All the actions James Sutherland took to cover and do the right thing in Cape Town were not even mentioned – the fact that he acted so quickly to suspend the captain and the vice-captain – and under his leadership, the administration took every step that was possible. Now we find a situation where, against the better judgment of a number of people, we’ve got people reporting and investigating without the proper quality. To me, the report is an absolute bloody nonsense and a disgrace.”
Another former director, the South Australian Ian McLachlan, reiterated his opposition to a fully independent nine-person board, preferring to see a model where six state-appointed delegates mix with three nationally-appointed independents. A former cabinet minister in Federal Parliament, McLachlan led SA’s opposition to CA governance reform in 2011-12, before sitting on the initial nominations committee for the new board that unearthed Peever, Roberts and Jacquie Hey as the first three independents.
“Until they let the states elect their own person to the board, the states will simply be told what to do from Jolimont, and that’s exactly not the way to run cricket,” McLachlan told the Sydney Morning Herald. “That was the one mistake in the Carter/Crawford report. It says CA is there to represent its owners, and the states are the owners, but it also contradicts that by saying the owners can’t have a direct member on the board. That in my view has led to the owners not knowing anything because they’re not told anything.”