Triple Olympic gold medal-winning rower Drew Ginn and longtime Justin Langer collaborator Ben Oliver have been formally commissioned as the new high performance executives for Cricket Australia, taking joint control of an area that sprawled into such vast territory under the former czar Pat Howard that the governing body deemed it too large for one person to run.
Howard was sacked by the new chief executive Kevin Roberts shortly after he replaced James Sutherland, in the wake of the damning Ethics Centre review of Australian cricket culture that was ordered after the Newlands ball tampering scandal last year. A lengthy search for Howard’s replacement has seen the role filled temporarily by the executive in charge of community cricket, Belinda Clark, as CA stopped and then redefined the recruiting process as being for two jobs rather than one. Ginn will be based in Melbourne and Olivier in Brisbane with the pair starting on July 29.
While Howard joined cricket “cold” in 2011, following a career in rugby union, pharmacy and property development, Ginn has moved across from his background in rowing and the Olympic movement via two years as the head of high performance with Tasmania. He will take control of a role primarily responsible for the running of domestic competitions, Australian youth teams, player, coach and umpire pathways including club cricket, talent ID and sports science.
“I am looking forward to joining Cricket Australia and having the opportunity to work more broadly across the National system,” Ginn said. “The past two years with Cricket Tasmania have been immensely rewarding.
“This is a chance to continue the work I have enjoyed locally and to now work closely with many great people involved in leading our domestic, national and youth competitions along with the leaders of our State programs, and those leaders in our Cricket Australia pathway programs, and our sports science and sports medicine areas.”
Peter Roach, the head of cricket operations, will report to Ginn. Roach has also taken over control of scheduling, an area of some difficulty for CA in recent times after India insisted on an ODI tour in mid-January next year. The Big Bash League, Sheffield Shield and domestic one-day tournament programs for next summer are still to be announced.
Oliver, a former first-class player for Victoria and Tasmania, held roles with CA, Cricket Victoria and the ICC before working closely with Langer as the high performance manager for Western Australia since 2012. Together, they established a program that was the envy of other states, notably by their use of a squad closely unified between the WA state team and the Perth Scorchers BBL club – a model subsequently used unashamedly by Tasmania and the Hobart Hurricanes.
“I have devoted most of my adult life to cricket, in both playing and high-performance roles, and I am extremely proud and humbled to continue that association as EGM, National Teams,” Oliver said. “I look forward to working with Justin Langer and Matthew Mott and their national men’s and women’s teams, as well as national selectors and all those involved in team operations and logistics.”
Among the first items on Oliver’s to-do list will be a look at the national selection panel, which will be shorn of the national talent manager Greg Chappell, currently with the Australian team on World Cup assignment, when he retires at the end of the Ashes series. Having already lost Mark Waugh, who was not replaced last year, that would leave only Langer and the chairman of selectors, Trevor Hohns, as formal members of the panel.
Howard’s tenure featured no end of issues, as he sought to work as a change agent to pursue goals outlined in the 2011 Don Argus-led review of Australian team performance, which followed the hefty loss of the Ashes 3-1 at home to England in 2010-11. His hard-nosed and confrontational style did not always go down well across the Australian system, particularly when added to his lack of a cricket background.
Alongside numerous issues of workload management for fast bowlers in particular, Howard’s term saw the 2013 homework scandal in India that contributed to the sacking of Mickey Arthur to be replaced by Darren Lehmann in 2013, the death of Phillip Hughes in 2014 and subsequent work to change concussion protocols in the game, winning the World Cup in 2015 on home soil and then suffering a dramatic Ashes defeat in England later that same year.
Another run of losses in late 2016, including Test series defeats by Sri Lanka away and South Africa at home, led to Rod Marsh’s resignation as selection chairman and a refocus on the demands for strong performance by the Australian team – Howard and Sutherland visited the team dressing room in Hobart to push that message directly. Results did improve, including a narrow series defeat against a highly fancied India in India in 2017, and the regaining of the Ashes at home in 2017-18, before the Newlands scandal in South Africa led to many changes, including the end of Howard’s time in the job.
Clark was left to run the department while a replacement could be found, and it was her opinion that the executive general manager’s role had to be split in two. “Australian cricket owes Belinda a debt of gratitude for the exceptional job she has performed throughout a challenging time for Australian cricket,” Roberts said. “She is one of our game’s greatest trailblazers and servants at all levels and we are delighted that she will resume her role as EGM of Community Cricket in late August after handing over to Ben and Drew and having a well-earned break. It is a critical role and a job she loves.”
James Faulkner set for Lancashire T20 Blast return in 2020
James Faulkner, the Australian left-arm seamer, will return to Lancashire for his fourth stint at the club for next year’s T20 Blast.
Faulkner first appeared for the county in 2015, and has been one of their overseas players in the Blast since 2018. This season, he took 11 wickets with an economy rate of 7.88 as Lancashire topped the North Group, but were beaten by eventual winners Essex in the quarter-finals.
“I am thrilled to be returning to Emirates Old Trafford for next season’s Vitality Blast,” Faulkner said. “It feels like a home away from home for me and I cannot wait to get started again in May.
“We were unlucky not to progress past the quarter-finals last year and we are all determined to put that right in 2020. We will be going all out to repeat the success of 2015, which remains one of the proudest memories in my cricketing career.
“Emirates Old Trafford is an amazing place to play cricket and I can’t wait to reunite with the squad next summer. I’m determined to win the Vitality Blast trophy back for the Club.”
Paul Allott, the club’s director of cricket, said: “James is a fantastic, well-rounded cricketer of significant experience and we are delighted to welcome him back to Emirates Old Trafford for a fourth season in 2020.
“He is the very definition of an all-rounder. He can bowl in any situation, which he has done successfully for us at both the beginning and back end of an innings, and is still a powerful batsman, not to mention his outstanding ability in the field too.
“His enthusiasm in representing the Red Rose is evident and he has established himself as a key figure in our T20 side. He is a proven winner and a great role model to the younger players.”
South Africa lose title sponsor as freefall continues
South Africa’s men’s team will lose their major sponsor, Standard Bank, who have opted not to renew their deal when it expires on April 30, 2020. This ends an association with cricket that dates back to 1998. Standard Bank sponsored South African cricket between 1998 and 2011, when it ended its sports associations with both cricket and football. The company then returned to cricket in 2016 and signed a four-year deal with Cricket South Africa (CSA) which is understood to be to the tune of R400 million (approx. US$ 27.3 million). Currently, they are only the title sponsor for the men’s team and their withdrawal is a direct result of administrative and governance problems at CSA which Standard Bank believes is tarnishing its reputation.
“Standard Bank is committed to upholding the highest levels of leadership, integrity and governance. In light of recent developments at CSA, which are a culmination of long-standing problems which have damaged Standard Bank’s reputation, it has decided not to renew its partnership with CSA,” Thulani Sibeko, Standard Bank Group Chief Marketing and Communications Officer said in a statement released on Friday morning.
Cricket South Africa’s protracted problems, which include a court battle against the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA), projected financial losses of at least R654 million (approx. US$44.7 million) in the next four-year cycle, and the suspension of six staff members – three of whom were given notice of their suspension on Thursday – came to a head last weekend when five journalists’ accreditation was revoked during the Mzansi Super League (MSL).
On Monday, CSA CEO Thabang Moroe confirmed CSA made the decision because they did not approve of the way these reporters were writing about the organisation. That same day, Standard Bank expressed its “grave concerns,” about the situation at CSA and demanded a meeting with CSA to “know about developments within CSA, especially those that relate to governance and conduct.”
Sources told ESPNcricinfo that Standard Bank had been severe on CSA officials at the meeting and demanded they “clean up their act”. On Tuesday, Standard Bank issued a statement expressing its satisfaction that the meeting was “productive” and that they were left with the assurance that CSA would “urgently take the South African public into its confidence about the state of governance at the cricket administrative body”. It also said CSA had agreed to “urgently implement remedial actions to address stakeholder concerns, including the unacceptable manner in which it treated members of the media”.
However, just three days later, Standard Bank has confirmed it will not renew the sponsorship deal. Between Tuesday and Friday, three independent directors, Professor Shirley Zinn, Iqbal Khan and Dawn Makhobo, have resigned from the CSA board, and there have been calls from all quarters for the CEO and President, Chris Nenzani to step down.
Among the chorus has been former UCB managing director Ali Bacher, who was involved in mediating an agreement between Moroe and Graeme Smith, which would have seen Smith become director of cricket on October 1. Critiques have also emerged from development sponsors The Willowton Group and, last night, the Gauteng Cricket Board, the biggest provincial affiliate of CSA. In addition to the voices of dissent, CSA also faces allegations of credit card abuse from Khan, and a second commercial rights dispute with South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) in as many months.
Now, CSA has also lost its only major team sponsor after deals with Sunfoil and Momentum ended last year.
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