'Lost control of cricket': Heat rising on Cricket Australia board
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'Lost control of cricket': Heat rising on Cricket Australia board

There is increasing pressure on the board of Cricket Australia and questions whether it can survive a turbulent off-season after a leading state chairman declared the game’s "we know best" centralised model was broken.

CA chairman Earl Eddings and the other eight directors had hoped the exit of chief executive Kevin Roberts nearly a fortnight ago would help quell discontent over the governing body’s slash-and-burn approach to COVID-19.

However, as reported by the Herald, there are state associations now agitating for major change to the role of governing body and the make-up of the board and it faces the possibility of being thrown out by its shareholders: the six states.

Queensland and NSW, the two states who have been in a stand-off with CA over the financial modelling and transparency of head office and claims of a cash crisis, are refusing to back down and Queensland Cricket chairman Chris Simpson is now arguing the way the game is administered needs to be urgently reset.

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Addressing a QC ordinary general meeting in Brisbane last week, the former Queensland captain said he did not believe CA would have found itself in the position it is in this winter "if the states were around the table".

"The centralised model or the behemoth that CA has morphed into has consumed all aspects of cricket, assumed the role of the master of all matters cricket," said Simpson, who has a background in finance and as a cattle owner and now runs his own agribusiness company.

"The states take offence to this – as we live and breathe grassroots and the day to day running of cricket. The states are resourcing and supporting the volunteers, the lifeblood of the game and cricket's most valuable asset. In my view, the states have lost control of cricket. We are told from Jolimont St how to run cricket and we do not believe in many of these 'systems and processes'."

Queensland Cricket chairman Chris Simpson.

Queensland Cricket chairman Chris Simpson.

The rebellion may force Melbourne-based Eddings to consider a push from states for a return to direct representation on the board, which would spell the end for many of the current CA directors.

It has been a fully independent board since 2012, with states able to nominate one director each but having no formal link to them. An alternative hybrid system favoured is for each state to have a director or chair also sit on the CA board, with the other three seats filled by independents.

Colin Carter, whose governance review of CA nearly a decade ago led to the demise of the old state-based board of 14 directors, last week cautioned against tearing down the independent model.

Simpson said Carter was making "a very big assumption", that there was alignment across Australian cricket in what the core responsibility of CA should be.

Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings.

Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings.Credit:Eddie Jim

"I believe that CA's core responsibility is to act as a collective bargaining vehicle for the state associations in producing elite content/fixtures/events, they should keep lean and specialised in the area of managing elite teams and the areas of events and entertainment, then support/trust the states to deliver cricket programs and develop talented kids, as we have done for many generations," he said.

"If CA is a master of all, then the board must comprise of some masters of volunteerism and grassroots cricket as it is our primary function at state level to provide services, support and resources to volunteers far and wide who deliver cricket so wonderfully.

"There is a widening gap between cricket administration and the day to day running of cricket throughout regional and metropolitan clubs.

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"It is nonsensical to think that centralisation is good for grassroots cricket. Cricket administration of yesteryear gave regional communities a voice; cricket administration of today is not a collaborative model, rather a top down 'we know best' beast."

State associations could unseat CA directors with four out of six in agreement at the annual general meeting later this year or if an emergency general meeting was called. But rather than more bloodletting, Simpson is intent on driving more lasting reform.

"For all of its wealth and associated power, CA needs to be seen as more of a partner in the development of the game – rather than its master," Simpson said.

"Until we are able to achieve this, states will simply be told what to do from Jolimont Street and that’s exactly not the way to run cricket."

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