Earl Eddings helmed Cricket Australia’s Annual General Body Meeting on Thursday as Cricket Australia look to earn back greater respect and connection to the wider game. The mood of the meeting was far different to a packed and fertile room at the MCG last year, for the release of a cultural review of Australian cricket that ultimately cost CA chairman David Peever his post.
Eddings himself remarked jokingly that “the fact there’s no media here seems to indicate we’ve become dull and boring again.” This wasn’t to say both the size of the game down under and its myriad challenges weren’t evident in either the numbers presented at the AGM or the rhetoric that accompanied it.
While CA were able to report an operating surplus of A$18 million for 2018-19 from total revenue worth A$435 million, a marked improvement on 2017-18, a further drilling into the numbers indicate plenty remains to be done. Summers featuring an inbound tour of India have long been regarded as the major cash raiser for CA, notwithstanding the growth of the Big Bash League as a separate revenue stream.
Last summer’s return in terms of operating surplus was actually the smallest for a summer featuring India for a major series in well over a decade. In 2007-08, CA netted returns worth A$24 million. In 2011-12, the figures were A$48 million in 2011-12, while in 2014-15, the returns were a whopping A$99 million (the season also featured a World Cup they co-hosted with New Zealand).
This reflects a changing global cricket landscape in terms of media rights available for bilateral tours, though CA is very much on more comfortable financial turf than the majority of the ICC’s member nations.
A modest crowd of 11,968, albeit on a weeknight, for Wednesday’s T20I against Sri Lanka at the Gabba provided a reminder for Eddings and company that the balance remained a fine one.
“It’s always a challenge with our schedule, marrying international and red ball commitments along with our Big Bash, so that’s always a constant change we make to refine that,” Eddings told ESPNricinfo. “The two touring [Test] teams this year don’t register strong international media rights, and we know, that’s why we have our four-year cycle so we can plan the ebbs and flows across this cycle.
“I think what’s important is that at the end of the cycle you’ve grown the game, which we’re on target to do. You do it concurrently – you’ve got to always work on your relationships and while I think we’ve done that exceptionally well this year, you can’t take that for granted. Any chair of any board is going to be looking to build relationships.”
Coming up on the calendar are two T20 World Cups, for women in February-March and then for men in October-November, both expected to reap handsome returns for CA and the ICC, though nothing like the bonanza of 2015.
“I think it was a bold step and I’m proud we did that, because we’re finding now that across the world people are going to start following that model,” Eddings said of splitting the two events, a decision taken in 2016. “And women’s cricket has evolved so quickly in a positive way, I think they’ve earned the right to have their own tournament. The local organising committee are working really hard to give focus to both events, so I’m really positive they’re going to be two great, albeit different events.
“I’d expect some upside, it won’t be as big as the previous World Cup, there’s not as much content, it doesn’t go as long, all those sorts of things, so it’s a different financial model than the 2015 World Cup. I’m hoping we have a good event and get a good return but too early to say what it may or may not be.”
Internally, too, there was challenge presented in terms of better governance of the game in Australia, in the form of a valedictory address by the outgoing chair of CA’s independent audit and risk committee, the noted sporting governance expert John Davies.
Speaking directly to CA’s state association owners, Davies was blunt in stating that quite often self-interest was hidden beneath measures or opinions expressing doubt in allowing the game’s future to be charted strategically at the top.
“I think if people who are elected to roles in leadership at both the state level and the national level, executive their responsibilities properly, in leadership, integrity and courage, you’d be really surprised by what you can achieve,” Davies said. “If you take your individual hat off and put ‘what is in the interests of the greater sport, in the long term interests of the sport’ I’m sure you can achieve significant change that will benefit this sport for many years to come.”
Eddings, himself now embarking upon a governance review of the ICC, agreed that there was more evolution to come. “John’s been a great servant and considered a bit of a governance guru around the world,” he said. “I think what he was talking about is that now we have developed a level of trust, which we all agree had been lacking for a number of years. Now is the time to look at what other governance reforms we can make.
“Our major reforms six-seven years ago didn’t solve all our problems. We didn’t solve all the governance issues we need to, so that’s something we’ll certainly look at in the future. But I think his comments were around because we have built a high level of trust with the states, maybe it’s time to look at what else we can do.
“I think everyone knew we were on the start of a journey and that wouldn’t solve all our governance issues, and I didn’t think you do, things always change and evolve and you’ve got to have a governance structure fit for purpose at the time.”
Eddings also touched upon how CA has worked to repair and strengthen relationships across the game. From the Australian Cricketers Association and the states to media and corporate partners, Eddings stated that the proof of progress was in a growing level of warmth and respect for the national men’s team from the depths of the Newlands scandal to their more than creditable displays in the World Cup and the Ashes this year.
“I don’t want to be one of the organisations out there beating their own drum,” he said. “But If I look at some of the evidence anecdotal and formal, all our stakeholders have been glowing in the turnaround in the way Cricket Australia engages with them. I look at that as a positive. Any culture change you can’t take it for granted, and while we’re ahead probably of where I thought we’d be in the cycle, I’m really proud we’re moving forward and everyone’s focused on the cricket. There’s no finish line with culture, it’s a rolling, nebulous thing you’ve got to keep nurturing.
“I’ve been really proud about how much we’ve focused on the women’s game but also putting back into community cricket, that’s something where we’ve been very highly focused on. Now you’ll see the high performance piece kick in. All those things, we have many moving parts of Australian cricket we manage and have we dropped too many balls, I hope we haven’t.
“But what’s more important is that it’s about the players, and you’ve seen that with the Ashes and the World Cup that I think the Australian public is stating to fall in love with our team again. They’re genuine, they’re authentic and they’re playing the way that Australia wants to be represented.”
Credit: Source link