Opinion: Chaos in Cricket Australia gives India advantage - Ian Chappell
Administrative woes in Cricket Australia and its poor relationship with players’ association are hurting the game Down Under
The recent off-field action in Australian cricket has been fierce and frenzied. Three players lost to suspension, followed by the resignation of a coach, a CEO and a Board member, then the pace really quickened with the reluctant departure of the chairman and then close on his heels, another Board member in respected former player and captain Mark Taylor. To cap off the chaos, two executives were then sacked.
The greatest beneficiary of this off-field upheaval is the Indian touring party which now has their best ever chance of beating a rattled Australia at home in a Test series.
Not that India have avoided their own administrative chaos. First there was the Lodha committee recommendations to clean up the BCCI, then the Supreme Court intervention to hurry along that process. Then the Committee of Administrators (CoA) were appointed to ensure compliance. More recently former captain-turned-administrator Sourav Ganguly, shared his concerns when he expressed; “A deep sense of fear,” over the present state of affairs in Indian cricket.
However, where Australia’s off-field chaos was precipitated by on-field cheating in Cape Town, India’s administrative woes haven’t seeped through onto the field and caused a disruption to the playing group.
Not only has Australia lost the services of their two best batsmen in Steve Smith and David Warner and (also the promising Cameron Bancroft but they are also navigating a cultural change to the way they play the game. It’s yet to be seen whether this will have an adverse effect on their results.
PLAYERS’ BODY KEY
Another aspect of Australian cricket that needs repairing is the relationship between Cricket Australia and the players’ association (ACA). This plumbed the depths during the recent acrimonious MoU negotiations but with all the blood-letting at CA, the time is right to bring a different perspective to this relationship.
To turn this fraught relationship into a partnership that takes the game forward in Australia, the ACA should conduct it’s own cull and appoint a new president in order to recommence dealings with a fresh approach.
The current president, Greg Dyer, made a provocative and opportunistic call to reinstate the suspended players following the release of the Longstaff report which was scathing of the CA culture. This was not the action of a man looking for a positive way forward in the relationship.
Australian cricket only needs to look to the Caribbean to see what harm can come from an administration warring with the players’ association. West Indies cricket has been in a parlous state for at least two decades and some of the blame for this must be shared by those warring parties.
Australia have by no means reached that stage and it’s to be hoped commonsense would prevail long before it deteriorated to that point. However what commenced with a calamitous error by the players has progressed to administrative chaos and the resultant departures from CA have provided the ideal opportunity to rebuild something really strong in Australian cricket.
There’s no doubt the Australian system - once the envy of the cricket world - has been fractured for some time. The balance between decisions made for business reasons and those in the best interests of the game has long since favoured the former. This balance needs to be addressed.
By adopting a compassionate and commonsense approach to a humbled Board, the ACA has an opportunity to help set Australian cricket on a path to regaining it’s former glory.
While the men’s game in Australia has been floundering, the women have been merrily going about the business of achieving success without alienating opponents or fans. Perhaps some input from the distaff side could hasten Australian cricket’s return to a position of respected strength.
During their career, cricketers have a duty to try and at least leave the game as strong as it was when they entered the fray. The current Australian players have a golden opportunity to achieve that aim - they shouldn’t spill the chance.
(Ian Chappell is a former Australian Test captain and his views are personal)