David Peever resigns as Cricket Australia chairman
David Peever has quit as Cricket Australia (CA) chairman in unprecedented fashion only a week after being re-elected for a further three years. Peever stepped down as a result of this week’s fierce reaction to the release of a damning cultural review of the governing body that followed the Newlands ball-tampering scandal.
A day after three of the six states – New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria – stopped short of endorsing his chairmanship, Peever handed in his resignation at an extraordinary Board meeting. Joint reviews conducted by Dr Simon Longstaff of the Ethics Centre and the former Test opening batsman Rick McCosker questioned why CA’s leadership had not been as accountable as the players.
Having attempted to become only the second chairman since the Second World War to serve two consecutive three-year terms, Peever has instead become the first chairman to be forced out without completing his tenure in the 113-year history of CA.
Earl Eddings, Peever’s deputy, was appointed interim chairman at the same Board meeting. The long-term replacement for Peever is unclear and may not necessarily be Eddings, announced as the heir apparent last week at the AGM where the chairman was re-elected. Eddings attended the ICC annual conference with Peever in Ireland earlier this year.
“We thank David for his service,” Eddings said. “He has played a pivotal role in the elevation of women’s cricket, and the significant growth in attendance and participation. He should also be acknowledged for his efforts in improving funding to the ICC full member nations outside Australia, England and India; overhauling governance of the ICC and reforming the Future Tours program, among a long list of achievements.
“We look forward to continuing the important process of recovering and rebuilding for Cricket Australia and Australian Cricket. The Board is keenly aware that we have a way to go to earn back the trust of the cricket community. We and the executive team are determined to make cricket stronger.”
John Knox, the chairman of NSW cricket, said: “The Cricket NSW Board commends David Peever for showing leadership at a difficult time by standing down as Chairman of Cricket Australia.
“David has contributed much to cricket during his three years as Chairman. The game has never attracted more fans or been played by more people than during his time at the helm. David has also invested in grass roots cricket across Australia at unprecedented levels.
“As Cricket Australia Chairman David has put the good of the game first by taking full accountability. We thank David for his years of service as a Cricket Australia Board member and Chairman.
“Cricket NSW looks forward to working with the new chairman to take the game forward.”
Jacquie Hey, who joined the board on the same day as Peever and the new chief executive Kevin Roberts six years ago, impressed publicly on the day the review was released, while the former senior administrators Malcolm Speed and Bob Merriman have both called for Mark Taylor to take up the role. John Harnden, a CA board director, and chairman of the Australia Grand Prix Corporation is another name that could feature.
Last week, Peever and the CA board elected not to release the cultural review to their state association owners until after the AGM, a move that has been universally criticised by the likes of Speed and also the sporting governance expert Colin Carter. This decision caused considerable disquiet among the states, leading to discussions around whether they could support CA’s leadership.
At the same time, Peever struggled noticeably in publicly explaining the review, accepting accountability for the cultural failings of the organisation but also insisting he was the right man to take CA forward. He faced further criticism after an interview on 7:30 with the ABC journalist Leigh Sales, in which he described events in South Africa as a “hiccup”.
Peever’s departure will conclude a round of changes at CA including the appointment of new men’s team captains in Tim Paine and Aaron Finch, a new coach in Justin Langer, and a new executive in Roberts, who replaced the departing James Sutherland after 17 years in charge. The team performance manager Pat Howard has also indicated he will exit when his contract expires next year.
Having joined the CA board in 2012, Peever succeeded Wally Edwards as chairman in 2015, and has overseen a series of misadventures including last year’s fractious pay dispute with the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), the Cape Town fiasco, and his leaked intervention into this year’s broadcast rights negotiations.
“Dedicating six years to the Board of Cricket Australia is a demonstration of his commitment to the game,” ACA president Greg Dyer said in a release. “We will continue to work closely with interim Chair Mr. Earl Eddings and the Cricket Australia Board at this important time, including in the implementation of the recommendations of the Longstaff Review.”
The former board director Bob Every resigned earlier this year in protest at Peever’s decision to seek a second term as chairman. The cultural review, which also revealed considerable tension between CA and the states under a new governance model unveiled in 2012, stated bluntly that administrators needed to be as accountable as players.
“One of Argus’s main themes was the need to foster a culture of accountability. It was an admirable aim – but one that has not been realised,” the review stated. “While those who lead ‘on the field’ are held personally accountable for their performance – liable to be ‘dropped’ for poor results or dismissed for bad conduct. The same standards do not apply to those who administer and govern the game. The issue here is one of consistency in relation to the obligations of leadership. One of the ‘hard truths’ of leadership is that a person may need to accept responsibility for matters over which they do not exercise direct control – both for acts and omissions in the conduct of one’s leadership.
“In some respects, this is a ‘sign of the times’. In general, standards of personal responsibility are lower than in times past e.g. when Government Ministers accepted responsibility for the conduct of their Departments. This is first and foremost a matter for individuals; under what circumstances will they accept and declare personal responsibility. It is the age-old question of cricket … are the leaders of the game like the batsman or batswoman who outsources responsibility to the umpire or do they take their cue from the fielder whose integrity is their own?”