Cricket Australia chairman quits after ball-tampering outcry

Cricket Australia chairman David Peever quit Thursday after coming under intense pressure over a ball-tampering scandal which has triggered an exodus of senior figures and long bans for three players.

The former Rio Tinto mining executive was only voted in for a new three-year term last week, days before a scathing independent review sparked by the cheating row slammed the governing body.

Calls have been mounting for Peever to go after it emerged that the CA-commissioned report was not provided to the country’s state associations before he was re-elected.

He was also widely criticised after an interview with broadcaster ABC this week in which he referred to the ball-tampering affair, which rattled the sport and caused an outcry among the Australian public, as a “hiccup”.

“Cricket Australia has today confirmed that Mr David Peever has announced his resignation as chairman of the board of Cricket Australia, effective immediately,” the governing body said in a statement.

His deputy Earl Eddings was appointed as interim chairman and said: “We have a way to go to earn back the trust of the cricket community.”

The review by the Sydney-based Ethics Centre blasted CA’s conduct leading up to the tampering incident in March, when players were caught using sandpaper to alter the ball at a Test match in Cape Town.

It found that an “arrogant” and “controlling” culture within the governing body contributed to players, who existed in a “gilded bubble”, cheating in the pursuit of victory.

The document also included complaints that there was a bullying culture in elite men’s cricket.

It made 42 recommendations, including establishing an anti-harassment code to stop sledging and training to improve team leaders’ “moral courage”.

Peever had until now kept his job despite the exit of CA chief executive James Sutherland, coach Darren Lehmann and team performance boss Pat Howard.

Then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner were banned for 12 months, and batsman Cameron Bancroft for nine months for their roles in the incident.

‘Earn back the trust’

Peever, 61, was defiant in the immediate aftermath of the review, declaring he was “not embarrassed at all”, while acknowledging that the board shared responsibility for the events in South Africa.

He insisted he had no plans to resign, but The Australian newspaper reported that he was told by key stakeholders on Thursday that his position had become untenable.

“We look forward to continuing the important process of recovering and rebuilding for Cricket Australia and Australian cricket,” Eddings said. “We and the executive team are determined to make cricket stronger.”

The Australian Cricketers’ Association, which has called for the bans on Smith, Warner and Bancroft to be lifted, said it would work closely with Eddings “at this important time, including in the implementation of the recommendations of the review”.

Former CA chief executive Malcolm Speed has called for Mark Taylor, a respected former captain and current board member, to take over as permanent chairman.

“David is the first to have come out of the corporate world rather than out of the cricket world and I think in this crisis that’s what’s shown here,” Speed said this week.

“Now, it’s not a hiccup, it’s much more than that, and my response to that was when I saw that interview and I thought Australian cricket can do better in choosing its chairman.

“The game deserves better governance, the game deserves better leadership.”

Peever, who assumed the chairmanship from former Test opener Wally Edwards in 2015, has been a polarising figure.

He helped negotiate a new $855-million broadcast deal for the organisation, but was widely criticised for his handling of a bitter 2017 pay dispute.

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Martin Parry
Martin Parry
AFP News Editor for Australia/New Zealand/Pacific

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