October 29, 2018 / 4:17 AM / 23 days ago

'Arrogant' and 'controlling' Australia criticised in culture review

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Cricket Australia have been branded as “arrogant” and “controlling” and accused of treating its elite players like commodities, allowing “alpha-male” egos to develop a win-at-all-costs approach, according to a wide-ranging report on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - England v Australia - Second One Day International - Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, Britain - June 16, 2018 Australia's Tim Paine celebrates taking the wicket of England's Jason Roy Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers/File Photo

CA commissioned the review of its organisation and the men’s team after a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa earlier this year threw the team into turmoil. Captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft were banned for their roles in the scandal.

It prompted a mix of anger and schadenfreude across the global cricketing community, with media pundits and former players suggesting Australia had brought it upon themselves with the aggressive way they played the game.

The 145-page report conducted by The Ethics Centre found a disconnect between state associations and the national body, while sponsors believed their value to the organisation was only measured in financial terms.

“Australian cricket has lost its balance and has stumbled badly,” the review said in its executive summary. “The reputation of the game of cricket, as played by men, has been tainted.

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

The ball-tampering scandal was also seen as a watershed for the sport in Australia with CA launching the root-and-branch review and ordering a charter governing player behaviour.

“I know all involved, would have preferred that the events in South Africa didn’t occur,” CA chairman David Peever told a media conference on Monday after the review was made public.

“But, they did, and the silver lining is that it’s precipitated this work and a chance for us to have a good look at ourselves.”

Peever said the trio would not have their bans reduced.

The review made 42 recommendations to change CA’s culture, most of which the organisation said they would either look to implement or already had in place.

The board rejected a recommendation that Australia’s elite players stop playing international Twenty20 cricket.

The review also found the ball-tampering scandal was not an aberration and players were reluctant to challenge their team mates’ behaviour.

“People being driven by ego and an alpha male culture privileges combativeness over collaboration and discourages healthy, constructive disagreement,” the review said.

SLEDGING

On-the-field sledging, which has been one of the major criticisms of the Australian team, was also inherent in the team’s culture, with certain individuals asked to “play the mongrel”.

“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 practised by other nations,” the report said.

“There is nothing enjoyable or fraternal about abuse. It is simply crude and brutal.”

The players, who were involved in a bitter pay dispute with CA last year, felt they were treated as commodities, whose only value to the organisation was driving commercial success.

“A constant complaint from players who contributed to this review is that they are treated as if they are assets of the game — commodities of variable value,” the report said.

“Their measure is recorded in runs made, wickets taken, matches won, world rankings. They count for little — perhaps for nothing — outside of those metrics.

“Instead, they are led to believe that their worth resides entirely in their capacity to meet CA’s strategic and commercial goals to win matches and present a compelling product.”

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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