CRICKET’S war of words continues to rage on as former players and commentators point the finger at what they believe to be the biggest problem plaguing Cricket Australia.
The damning Longstaff review, released in late November, resulted in an exodus atop the cricketing hierarchy with former Aussie Test skipper and board member Mark Taylor joining David Peever in resignation.
Taylor was accused of being merely “window dressing” for Cricket Australia by former Channel Nine commentator Ian Chappell.
“They’ll argue they have a couple of ex-players on the board, yeah sure, but they are there more as window dressing,” Chappell said last week.
Former Aussie wicketkeeper Ian Healy hit back at his Channel Nine colleague and longtime commentary box partner on Sunday’s edition of Sports Sunday.
Nine panellist Peter FitzSimons, who was also in Chappell’s sights, being accused of “always searching for the spotlight”, asked Healy what he thought of Chappell’s spray at Taylor.
“Spotlight boy?” Healy responded, sending the entire panel including former netballer Liz Ellis into a bout of sheepish laughter.
“Tubby has been heaps more than window dressing. His board directorship has been like a full-time job for the last two years. The I think the players association and its body, all the players and the executive have to take the lead of Cricket Australia. Just make sure you have the right people in the right place as well. He will definitely be a huge loss to the game.”
Taylor’s exit as director leaves Michael Kasprowicz as the only former first-class or international player on CA’s board, something that will soon be rectified. The 50-Test skipper nominated Simon Katich, Alex Blackwell and Belinda Clark as suitable directors earlier this week.
Former Test captains Steve Waugh, Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting have also been thrown in the mix as ideal candidates to steer the Cricket Australia ship out of its ugly public storm.
But Gilchrist and Ponting both have commentary commitments, a conflict of interest that Taylor admitted became harder and harder to juggle in his 13-year stint as a CA director and Channel Nine pundit.
Once Taylor and Peever’s replacements are appointed, the board will be in a better place to sink its teeth into The Ethics Centre’s 42 recommendations and a submission from the players’ union regarding Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft’s bans.
It’s believed the recent upheaval hasn’t affected CA’s stance on the suspensions.
DEBATE RAGES OVER SUSPENSIONS
Despite increased calls for Cricket Australia to slash Steve Smith and David Warner’s bans, the latter believes they’ll be out of the international side for the long haul.
Warner expects he and former skipper Smith will have to see out their 12-month bans despite a challenge launched by the players’ union.
The pair locked horns in grade cricket on Saturday with Warner being dismissed by Austin Waugh — son of Steve Waugh — in front of thousands at Coogee over.
The pair will be out of the baggy green dressing room until March.
Cricket Australia are reportedly “considering” a reduction of the suspensions after calls from the Australian Cricketers’ Association to have Warner and Smith return to the field this summer. But Warner said in his mind the ban would remain as he aimed to avoid further distractions.
“At the end of the day I’m sitting here 12 months on the sideline, that’s my take on it,” he said.
“That’s why I want to keep being positive about the guys that are playing and pump them up.
“We can’t keep sitting here going ‘they’re going to be in’ or ‘they’re not going to be in’. We just want the game to be pumped us as much as we can.”
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