BRISBANE: Australia’s top cricket chiefs Friday ruled out stepping down after a ball-tampering scandal that shocked the nation, saying it was “not the time for a witch-hunt” as a review into player conduct was announced.
The sport has been engulfed in one of its biggest crises after former captain Steve Smith, his deputy David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft attempted to alter the ball’s condition in the third Test in South Africa last month.
Smith and Warner were banned for a year and Bancroft for nine months, with the trio accepting their sanctions on Wednesday and Thursday.
Critics have questioned whether Cricket Australia’s role in the affair should come under scrutiny, but chairman David Peever said he did not intend to step down and that chief executive James Sutherland’s job was not in jeopardy.
“James Sutherland’s position is not under review, he continues to retain the full support of the board,” Peever told reporters in Brisbane.
“In respect of my own position, no, I do not intend to step down, and that hasn’t been suggested by the board. Our task now is to work through this problem and make sure we come through and cricket comes through it much more strongly.
“I think we will all come under the microscope about what is happening in the organisation. But this is not the time for a witch-hunt.”
Peever said the governing body was “moving forward” with an independent review announced last week to “have a broad remit” and look into wider cultural and organisational issues in the sport.
But the players’ union the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), which has criticised the bans as disproportionate compared to previous cases, said the review was “far from independent”.
“CA establishing its own review, selecting the reviewer and then having the findings of the review issued to itself — particularly as it relates to its own corporate culture — is far from transparent,” ACA president Greg Dyer said in a statement late Friday.
The ACA has said the inquiry should involve the union and CA, so both bodies could jointly contribute to its outcomes.
Peever said former ex-Test opener Rick McCosker would also chair a separate player and former-player driven process to consider a charter setting out “standards of behaviour and expectations of Australian teams”.
“It is anticipated that this process will include assessments as to whether changes to codes and standards governing player conduct are required,” said Peever, a former managing director of mining giant Rio Tinto.
All three players have been dumped by sponsors as a result of the scandal while Cricket Australia has been dropped by its top sponsor, fund manager Magellan.