Ball handling scandal – The Newlands Review Cricket Australia forgot


Amid the Newlands scandal, the day Cricket Australia announced drastic penalties for David Warner, Steven Smith and Cameron Bancroft, GM James Sutherland clarified two things.

First, the penalties were not for the tampering itself, but for the subsequent cover-up and the enormous damage to reputation it caused at the game in Australia. Second, and just as important, Sutherland said a more in-depth review will go further with members of the Australian squad on how they got to the sad point they reached in Cape Town.

Little is remembered about this review. It was chaired by respected former Test opener and New South Wales captain Rick McCosker, and moderated by longtime ethics expert Peter Collins. It featured a panel of cricketers that included current test captain Tim Paine and his now deputy Pat Cummins, as well as Australian women’s captain Meg Lanning and deputy Rachael Haynes.

Three years later, McCosker told ESPNcricinfo that he believed the review had served its purpose, in that it had helped provide a framework to improve the behavior of the Australian team and focus on peer responsibility in the locker room. He is proud that the standard of behavior seen on the pitch has improved dramatically, as three years of games have demonstrated the change more fully than words could.

But McCosker is equally firm that CA allowed the team’s assessment to be “overwhelmed” by the unveiling of the larger culture review, led by Simon Longstaff, which led to the resignation. from Chairman of the Board, David Peever, in November 2018. Three Years later, the public opinion is that players have never been confronted with Newlands and its precursors after the initial investigation into the Code. conduct led by then CA Integrity Chief Iain Roy which resulted in the bans.

This reading of events would be to ignore what McCosker and his review board did: isolate the patterns of behavior that made Newlands happen and find a point of collective responsibility for all involved, not just the three forbidden ones. .

McCosker and Collins first spoke to bowlers who have played in South Africa: Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon. They also spoke to Smith at his home. These discussions were frank. Suffice it to say, it all took place in a much less anxious atmosphere than that which reigned in the Australian team’s hotel in Cape Town after the Newlands Test: the environment in which Roy had interviewed ten of the 15 players on tour. and six of 12 staff on tour for its code of conduct investigation.

One of the lingering problems with any form of leadership is forgetting the lessons of history. But that’s a whole different thing from first allowing the substance and presence of a gamer review you commissioned to be overwhelmed by other events, and then forgetting that it even happened. produced in the first place. No wonder the brute beast of Newlands has returned.

Not all members of the Newlands XI have been consulted by McCosker either. Bancroft was not interviewed as it was felt he had suffered enough; Warner was not interviewed because his management discouraged the idea on the grounds that things were still too raw at the time. Nonetheless, McCosker’s review drew on some key findings shared with Longstaff for inclusion in the culture review, and he also put together a players’ pact, designed to instill a sense of ownership in the culture. Australian team by the audience.

“One of the first meetings we had was a very frank and productive discussion with the bowling group that played in the test match in South Africa,” McCosker wrote in a column for Player voices in 2018. “Shortly after, Peter and I visited Steve Smith at Steve’s to discuss his thoughts on what happened and what led to it. Steve, like the bowlers, was very open and cooperative.

“What we found, in summary, was that there were players in the Australian squad who knew things were not going well, that some aspects of the team’s responsibilities had been overlooked and that the expectations of winning had, to some extent, clouded other parts of what it meant to be an Australian cricketer. “

Throughout the period, McCosker found the players to be sincere in their contrition over Newlands and what led to it. But he had less cooperation from CA when it came to recognizing the importance of reviewing players to make it clear that the national team had embarked on a wider and deeper soul-searching after the decision of the bans.

Knowing that the findings of the Player Review and the drafting of the Players Pact should be announced and discussed separately from the Longstaff Review, McCosker was repelled by CA’s preference for all to be discussed together on the same day. In practice, this meant that Paine and Hazlewood – who, alongside Mitchell Marsh, was part of a final meeting to draft the pact – were present for a few brief minutes at a nationwide press conference where attention was squarely focused. on Peever and the board.

It was a measure of how the cycle of public discussion had evolved from Newlands itself that after Paine read the pact, only a handful of questions had been asked of him and Hazlewood by a large media contingent. at the MCG, before they left the stage. at Peever. The kind of questions asked of many players this week, about the broader responsibility for attempted ball tampering and concealment, barely had a chance to be broadcast when they needed it most. .

Flipping through the 145 pages of Longstaff magazine, there are multiple examples of players accepting collective responsibility for the dysfunctional culture that led to Newlands, but also their views on the larger CA system and the landscape of cricket in which it took place.

On page 76: “A number of elite players have made it clear that they will not dispute the bad behavior of a talented player – in case it puts the player out of the game – making the difference between a victory or a loss.”

On a heavily worded 84 page: “According to a wide range of interviewees, one of the triggers for the ball tampering incident at Newlands was the players’ inability to exercise a level of self-control, a good grip decision-making and interpersonal skills. In particular, a number of senior players have not questioned their poor behavior – in case it affects performance on the pitch. “

More tellingly, Longstaff Review acknowledged that ball handling itself evolved from a period in the history of the game when efforts to achieve an inverted swing had been intensifying for some time.

On page 89: “Players openly talk about all kinds of man-made measures being used to improve what would otherwise be left to nature. We’ve heard stories about the power of certain brands of sweet mint to help shine; finger splints designed to abrade the bullet, rocks in the pockets … a whole range of tips and tools designed to “handle” the bullet.

“The referees are clear. Any interference with the ball – even by deliberately throwing the rough side into hard ground – is against the laws of cricket. Yet it appears that the rules are imperfectly enforced; that penalties vary widely and that some teams are more willing to traffic than others. Taken together, this means that there is no “level playing field” – and therefore an incentive to push the boundaries of acceptable behavior to the point where the referees intervene … and sometimes beyond. “

These passages were rarely cited at a time when most felt it was the turn of CA’s board of directors and management to be accountable as Warner, Smith and Bancroft had been a few months before. And their absence then contributed to the feeling of unanswered questions at the considerable distance of May 2021.

Once the evaluations were announced, McCosker had no follow-up from CA. The administration, reacting forever to the next spot fire, had moved on. Three years later, the players’ review has been more or less forgotten, not only by the general public but by CA itself. Of the board subcommittee members who worked on the journals and their publication – Jacquie Hey, Mark Taylor, Michael Kasprowicz and Earl Eddings – only the chairman, Eddings, remains on the board.

One of the lingering problems with any form of leadership is forgetting the lessons of history. But that’s a whole different thing from first allowing the substance and presence of a gamer review you commissioned to be overwhelmed by other events, and then forgetting that it even happened. produced in the first place. No wonder the brute beast of Newlands has returned.

Daniel Brettig is associate editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Source link

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.