Review Bombshell: Cricket Australia To Pick Players On Character As Well As Form
Wickets and runs are no longer enough if you want to play for Australia.
Less arrogance, greater sportsmanship, and a new focus on "character" -- from head office all the way to the men's national team dressing room and beyond.
Australian cricket administrators and the national men's team have been told to clean up their act in the twin reviews -- one review into team culture, the other into CA itself -- which were commissioned in the wake of the ball tampering scandal in Cape Town in March. The full reviews are here.
"Australia has a very long history of competing hard and winning games and that's not going to change but we are going to win in a way that makes Australians proud," CA chairman David Peever said.
Noting that "the Australian Men's team is tainted but women's side is unaffected", the reviews, undertaken by The Ethics Centre, contain 42 recommendations, many based around issues of character.
One of the key recommendations is that national selectors take into account players' character as well as their on-field abilities. Other recommendations include:
• CA's executive leadership accepting its share of responsibility for circumstances that led to the Cape Town incident, "not as a matter of direct, personal culpability but as a demonstration of responsible leadership and accountability"
• Improvement in CA's management of players as they join or exit elite-level teams, to show more compassion and respect as well as provide greater training and awareness to help players and staff negotiate potential ethical dilemmas
• CA's high-performance program to ensure it focuses on development of players' physical, mental and emotional attributes, in line with an ethos of playing 'hard but fair'
• CA's board members be made answerable to the Code of Conduct that applies to the organisation's employees (including players)
• Amendments be made to CA's anti-harassment code for players and support staff so that the definition of 'harassment' is broadened to include abusive sledging, and to explicitly document prohibition of conduct perceived as bullying
It has also been recommended that this ethos will also flow through to major honours like the Allan Border AB Medal, which should have a "fairest" element attached, similar to the AFL's Brownlow Medal.
Cricket Australia board member and former Test captain Mark Taylor warned on Sunday that it would be "hard-hitting, confronting for CA and for anyone who loves the game of cricket".
He was right, give or take the numerous blacked-out sections which prevented any names from appearing for legal reasons.
CA chairman David Peever launched the review by saying that CA voluntarily commissioned the review because "we wanted to look in the mirror" and said he accepted responsibility for what happened in South Africa, but also said he was very confident of being able to move forward.
He called the events of South Africa "a silver lining" which gave Cricket Australia a chance to look at itself.
Peever also said that the 12-month bans on David Warner and Steve Smith would not be reduced, despite the governing body accepting responsibility for a culture which in some ways led to the ball tampering scandal.
Earlier, Australian Test captain Tim Paine and fast bowler Josh Hazlewood presented the human face of the players.
Paine announced a new "Players Pact", after admitting that "we got caught up a little bit in our own importance". Reading from a statement, he said:
"We understand we are role models for many millions of people across this country and around the world.
"We acknowledge how grateful and privileged we are to play cricket for our country and to have one of the best jobs in the world. When we first started playing cricket, we all dreamt of playing for Australia. Now that we are, it is our collective responsibility to inspire future generations to pick up a bat and ball. We respect the game, the spirit of cricket and all of its traditions.
We recognise that we are role models and the Australian public holds strong expectations as to our behaviour, both on and off the field. Finally, compete with us, smile with us, fight on with us, and dream with us speaks to how the players will play their cricket for their country, state, Big Bash teams, associations or clubs, and is an invitation for the public to come and connect with us. We will compete hard but fair, and always in the right spirit of the game."
On the subject of sledging onfield, Paine said it would never stop entirely, but that the tone would be moderated.
"You're never going to have a game of cricket played where opposition aren't going to speak to each other. I think that's always been a part of the game and always will be," he said.
"But we know what's right and we know what's wrong. We know what Australian cricket expects of us. And we'll be holding each other accountable."
The reviews were put together by a team working under Dr Simon Longstaff of The Ethics Centre in Sydney -- an independent, not-for-profit organisation which "delivers innovative programs, services and experiences, designed to bring ethics to the centre of professional and personal life".
In describing the thinking behind the review, The Ethics Centre said:
"The detailed report provides evidence of the gaps between what Australian cricket aspires to be and where it stands today. Our recommendations are designed to close those gaps -- and in doing so, to help Australian cricket (and its cricketers) remain competitive while being grounded within an Australian community that is proud of its success and the manner by which it has been achieved".