Cricket Australia branded as ‘arrogant’ by review

Cricket Australia has been described as “arrogant” in a review of its culture commissioned after the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.

The review, which was released on Monday by Simon Longstaff of The Ethics Center, said administrators should bear as much blame as captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft, who were suspended for their roles in the incident at Cape Town in March.

The attempt by Bancroft to use sand paper to alter the condition of the ball during the test match, with the knowledge of Smith and Warner, caused “grief” among the Australian public, Longstaff said.

It exposed a dark culture, also manifest in players’ aggressive conduct toward opponents.

Longstaff’s 147-page report, based on interviews with players, sponsors and other stakeholders, said Cricket Australia had consistently failed to live up to its values and principles and a culture of disrespect and bullying ran through the organisation.

“The most common description of CA is as ‘arrogant’ and ‘controlling’,” the report said. “The core complaint is that the organisation does not respect anyone other than its own.

“Players feel that they are treated as commodities. There is a feeling among some state and territory associations that they are patronised while sponsors believe their value is defined solely in transactional terms.”

Longstaff’s findings are couched in unusually powerful terms, likening the grief felt by the Australian public to another incident of poor sportsmanship in the country’s cricketing past.

He said: “It was linked to a sense of shame not felt since the days of the perfectly legal, but what some may consider unsporting, under-arm bowling incident, a shame that our society’s ethical malaise had moved from politics to business to the churches.

“Responsibility for that larger picture lies with CA and not just the players held directly responsible for the appalling incidents,” in the match at Cape Town.

Smith, Warner and Bancroft are the only players named in the report. Others, who gave feedback to the author, are anonymous.

“Over recent years, David Warner and Steve Smith have attracted the highest number of Code of Conduct breaches for international matches,” the review said. “However, in the last two years, both men have been honoured, suggesting that poor behaviour is not considered to be linked to the concept of poor performance.”

Longstaff pointed to Australia’s sledging culture as further evidence of the systemic faults in CA’s approach.

The review said: “A culture of disrespect for the opposition, as seen in the common practice of abusive sledging, runs through Australian domestic and international cricket, to a degree not practiced by other nations.

“There is nothing enjoyable or fraternal about abuse. It is simply crude and brutal. The reputation of the game of cricket, as played by men, has been tainted. Women’s cricket remains unaffected.”

The review said the Cricket Australia leadership should 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.”

CA has begun to address some of its perceived shortcomings ahead of the review. Chief executive James Sutherland has left after 17 years and Pat Howard, the high-performance manager, has said he won’t extend his contract beyond mid-2019.

New Australia coach Justin Langer and captain Tim Paine are charged with changing the culture within the Australian team

Cricket Australia chairman David Peever responded to the review in a statement and apologised for the mistakes made

He said: “At Cricket Australia our purpose is to unite and inspire communities through cricket. There’s no doubt that the ball-tampering incident in South Africa was extremely regrettable and caused distress across our country.

It has been a difficult and confronting time for everyone involved in Australian Cricket, and for that I am sorry. Mistakes have been made, lessons have been learnt, and changes are and will continue to take place.”

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