‘Circus’: Cricket boss calls for drastic change

Following the sudden resignation of Cricket Australia Chair Earl Eddings, one of the sport’s shareholders has called for drastic change.

Cricket NSW Chairman John Knox has called for Cricket Australia to conduct a governance review following the resignation of Earl Eddings, recommending CA’s Chair role be split among several leaders.

Eddings stepped down as CA Chair on Wednesday after serving three years in the role, having reportedly lost the full support of the board. The Queensland, WA and NSW Cricket boards had also withdrawn their support for the cricket boss.

Because he subsequently did not have the numbers to survive, Eddings withdrew his bid for a second term.

CA hopes to appoint a permanent chair by the end of this year.

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“It has been an honour and a privilege to be able to serve the sport I love as a Cricket Australia director,“ Eddings said in a statement.

“In that time, and particularly during my time as Chair, we have navigated some of the sport’s greatest challenges, including rebuilding the trust and reputation of Australian cricket after the Newlands incident and, more recently, the enormous impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on domestic and international cricket.”

Eddings’ resignation was announced 24 hours ahead of CA’s Annual General Meeting, where it was revealed the organisation had essentially broken even during the most recent financial year.

Speaking during Thursday morning’s AGM, Knox made several suggestions to improve the current structure of CA’s governance model.

“Under the existing governance model, the shareholders of Cricket Australia have only one chance per year to directly influence Cricket Australia. That is today at this AGM, where we have the ability to vote for the election of directors,” Knox said.

“The constitutional requirement of the Chair of Cricket Australia to meet with the states Chairs twice per year has not been adhered to. This means that today’s meeting represents the first meeting of the shareholders of Cricket Australia amongst itself or with the Board of Cricket Australia for the entire year.

“We require a governance model that encourages and supports more communication amongst us all.”

Knox also said the Cricket NSW Board was disappointed that Eddings had not groomed a successor to take over from him.

“In the future, we recommend there is always a successor to the role of Chair, or even better, multiple successors ready to take over at any point in time, just like we need to ensure there are multiple leaders on the field ready to lead should something happen to the captain,” he said.

Lastly, Knox also claimed the compensation structure for the CA Chair role needed to be reviewed, suggesting dividing the responsibilities amongst a broader set of leaders.

“It is highly unusual in any business or sporting environment that the Chair of any organisation would be paid at such a significant multiple to what other directors are paid,” he said.

“This creates two obvious issues – that other directors will feel far less responsibility than that of the Chair, and that the Chair needs to act like an executive to justify the compensation.

“Neither of these are ideal for a great organisation.”

Eddings had replaced David Peever as CA chair in 2018, with his predecessor resigning after a phone call from Knox.

On Wednesday, former Australian captain Adam Gilchrist took aim at CA’s “laughable” governance since the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal, which had drastic implications on Australian cricket.

“It’s almost like the circus continues,” Gilchrist told SEN.

“For the last two or three years perhaps at Cricket Australia … it really feels like it’s been rudderless.

“Cricket boards around the world must be thinking, ‘What is going on over there?’

“It is a bit laughable … it’s just a real shame this is taking so much focus of the board (at the start of the season).”

Former Foxtel chief executive Richard Freudenstein, who replaced Eddings as CA Chair on an interim basis on Wednesday, said in a statement: “Everything that has been achieved in the past 12 months shows not only the resilience of our sport but also what can be done when we work together. This is a clear lesson we have all taken from the pandemic and will remain with us throughout this coming season.

“The Board has commenced the process of identifying the next Chair and it is anticipated that we will be in a position to make an appointment before the end of the year.”

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