Cricket Australia chairman David Peever and new CEO Kevin Roberts have the task of turning things around.
Cricket Australia chairman David Peever and new CEO Kevin Roberts have the task of turning things around.

CA culture: ‘Arrogant’, ‘bullying’ and ‘dictatorial’

NOT win-at-all-costs, but a push to win without counting the costs.

In a snapshot, this phrase captures the essence of cricket's independent review into the game's "arrogant", "bullying" and "dictatorial" culture and why debate over the sanctions handed down to Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft is set to explode once more.

Simon Longstaff from the Ethic's Centre begins his extensive cultural review by emphasising that Warner's role in influencing the more junior Cameron Bancroft to sandpaper a ball, with the captain Smith turning a blind eye - is only the "reported facts".

"Below the surface", Longstaff says, is a "web of influences" that show responsibility for the bigger picture of what happened in Cape Town lies not just with the players involved but with Cricket Australia administrators.

Cricket Australia chairman David Peever and new CEO Kevin Roberts have the task of turning things around.
Cricket Australia chairman David Peever and new CEO Kevin Roberts have the task of turning things around.

Although Longstaff makes a distinction between responsibility and culpability for those in charge of the team and the game, his claim that Cricket Australia has failed to be appropriately accountable for a culture marred by ethical imbalance is damning to say the least.

Longstaff said the overwhelming feedback from respondents was that Cricket Australia would often "leave problems unaddressed or allow the blame to fall on a group who may not bear full responsibility."

Case in point, according to respondents, is sandpapergate in Cape Town.

"The severe punishments handed out to Cameron Bancroft, Steve Smith and David Warner in the wake of Newlands is cited as an example of this - where CA is seen to have failed to accept its share of the blame for what transpired."

Steve Smith and David Warner came under plenty of fire over the ball tampering scandal but may now have an avenue to appeal their bans. Picture: Michael Klein
Steve Smith and David Warner came under plenty of fire over the ball tampering scandal but may now have an avenue to appeal their bans. Picture: Michael Klein

A senior state administrator told the review:

"Bancroft should have said no but he had no foundation on which to say no whatsoever."

Cricket Australia's investigation into the scandal in Cape Town determined that only three people were to blame. Longstaff disagrees.

"In the worst cases, players are called upon to 'play the mongrel'. Some players may have a natural affinity for playing such a role," he writes.

"However, the cost of playing such a role is that they risk becoming such a person. This does not excuse individuals of responsibility for their acts and omissions.

"However, there is a broader context of responsibility that needs to be recognised and understood.

"If accountability is to be a hallmark of Australian cricket then it must be applied to all leaders, whether their primary arena is on, or off, the field of play."

Cameron Bancroft attempted to hid evidence of ball tampering back in March.
Cameron Bancroft attempted to hid evidence of ball tampering back in March.

Longstaff reported that the most common description of CA was as "arrogant, controlling" and disrespectful, leading players to feel as though they're treated as commodities.

However, despite all this, the majority of respondents backed CA's heavy sanctions to Smith, Warner and Bancroft.

As revealed by The Daily Telegraph, the Australian Cricketers Association is poised to make an official submission to the Cricket Australia board to try and reduce the ball-tampering penalties on the basis that they're disproportionate to the lack of responsibility taken by CA administrators.

However, their members, the playing group, may have failed to help their cause.

Only 29 per cent of the players contacted to complete Longstaff's survey actually responded, potentially contributing to a stark finding that the majority of survey respondents applauded Cricket Australia's ball-tampering bans as "exemplary."

Of the stakeholders who responded, the majority said the sanctions were a positive demonstration of Cricket Australia's "Be Real" ethos and also in the important "Spirit of Cricket" category.

Interviews with players and ex-players over the past few months have largely reflected a view that the suspensions were too harsh, but if that's the case, Warner, Smith and Bancroft may have been let down by the lack of responses from their colleagues.