David Peever is the man who fell to earth.
On Monday, he strode into a press conference at the MCG confident that the two reports on the collapse of cricket culture and governance he was about to explain would be enough to secure his future as chairman of Cricket Australia (CA) and chart a path forward for the game.
What a fools paradise he, and the citadel of boring white men in suits who re-appointed him just the week before, had been living in.
Just a few days later, Peever was gone.
The absurdity of the CA board expecting the offending players in the infamous Cape Town sandpaper affair – Steve Smith, Cameron Bancroft and David Warner – to wear severe punishment for their behavior whilst excusing themselves from any consequence for the systemic failures clearly outlined in the report, wouldn’t stand.
It was clear to anyone who read the report, clear to the players and their association who asked for their penalties to be commuted as a consequence of the failings of head office, clear to cricket fans who saw a chairman who set fire to the place and was now claiming he was the man to put it out, that he had to go.
I made a point of sitting amongs cricket’s royal court of administrators for that now infamous press conference. I wanted to get a sense of what they were about.
Former Australian fast bowler and CA board member Michael Kasprowicz told me it was a great time to be involved in the game, blue skies ahead.
David Peever sat next to me, leaned across and shook my hand. It was just another day at the office, just another press conference to endure, same as it ever was.
Except it isn’t and it never could be. The sense of business as usual was surreal and clearly delusional.
The fact that Peever was re-appointed as chairman at an annual general meeting that hadn’t even seen the report which was released days later speaks of a profound arrogance and sense of entitlement.
Something deep and profound shifted the day that in Cape Town when an industrial agent was used to “win and not count the cost”.
Years of a corrosive culture of entitlement and amorality was distilled into a bitter brew that day which has left a bitter taste in the mouth of Australian sports fans and decimated cricket in a manner which hasn’t been seen since the World Series Cricket split of the mid 70s.
Cricket in this country has leveraged its deep and abiding connection to the Australian imagination that traverses generations.
Australia’s summer obsession somehow connects us to a deeper sense of national story – from Bradman, Miller, Warne and beyond – a sense of continuity in times of deep uncertainty.
Cricket has taken Australians for granted, and now it is paying the price both on the field and off it.
Think about this.
The captain, coach, CEO, high performance manager, chairman who started the year have all gone. There are more headless chooks in Australian cricket right now than at a poultry farm.
As summer approaches, the storm clouds have already broken over the game.
We can only hope that this is the darkest hour before a new dawn.