‘Compete with us, smile with us, fight on with us, dream with us’. That is the pact Australia’s cricketers committed to on Monday after the release of a review to establish a new behavioural charter.
It followed the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town, which led to extensive bans for then captain Steve Smith and batsmen David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.
There was no such invitation to the dawning of a new era from the concurrent organisational review of Cricket Australia.
It painted the picture of a self-satisfied cricket bureaucracy asleep at the wheel and 42 recommendations for change.
But despite the criticism, CA chairman David Peever insists he is the right person to oversee structural reform within Australian cricket’s governing body.
Peever told a media conference in Melbourne on Monday that while he accepted full responsibility for what went on in Cape Town, he was committed to staying in his role.
Current Test captain Tim Paine said the new pact “represents a commitment from Australian players to a set of overarching standards”.
“This is a line in the sand for us as players. We are looking forward to focusing on the future of the game, playing with pride and making Australians proud.”
Paine, who has the unenviable task of reconstructing a team from the wreckage of the Cape Town fiasco, said his team would continue to “play hard but fair”. But the definition of that needed to be recalibrated.
“The hard part is about the way we compete,” he said. “It’s not always about being aggressive to our opposition or abusive towards our opposition.
“The fair component of that is that everyone who plays for our men’s or women’s team knows what’s right and what’s wrong.”
Fast bowler Josh Hazelwood admitted players were getting to grips with the cricketing public’s disillusionment with the national team. Players had had to take stock, he said.
“It’s about recognising how lucky we are to play the game and not taking anything for granted. We’ve got one of the best jobs in the world.
I think respect and humility are big factors in making Australians proud again.”
Chairman David Peever said of the organisational review (conducted by former player Rick McCosker and The St James Ethics Centre) that “today is a difficult day for us. The report is confronting. That said, we’ll use the recommendations to move on from here.”
The report is a damning assessment of Australian cricket culture citing an atmosphere of bullying and winning without counting the costs that extended from the boardroom to the change rooms.
“Australia has a very long history in cricket of competing hard and winning games. That’s not going to change but what is important is that we are also able to win in a way that makes Australians proud.”
Tensions between players and CA have been high since a bruising pay dispute in 2017. They have also been exacerbated by what some players have seen as a lack of accountability at an executive level for the Cape Town crisis. Peever dismisses the idea that head office got off lightly.
“There are 42 recommendations in this report, a number of which are already being addressed,” he said.
When asked why he should stay as chairman despite other key leadership figures in charge during the crisis having been removed or resigning – including the captain in Smith, coach Darren Lehmann, CEO James Sutherland and high performance manager Pat Howard – Peever played a straight bat.
“I serve at the pleasure of the board and as a director at the pleasure of our owners [the state federations]. I’m not embarrassed (by the report). We’re very committed to moving the game forward.”