Cricket – a game of change and challenge
Another year of success has placed Cricket Australia at the forefront of sport.
It is a pleasure to present my first annual report as the Chairman of Cricket Australia.
Make I take this opportunity to thank Wally Edwards for his outstanding leadership of this organisation from 2011 until last October. Few administrators can have had such a fundamental and lasting impact on their sport, including the creation of an independent board and a modern structure for the relationship between CA and the state and territory associations.
The board has seen a number of changes this year. Tragically, we lost John Bannon last December, and I will comment further on his contribution in the Tributes and Milestones section. Michael Kasprowicz stood down from the board to take up an interim position as chief executive of Queensland Cricket, and we were fully supportive of Kevin Roberts when he chose to accept a senior executive position within Cricket Australia.
Joining us have been Michelle Tredenick, an experienced company director; Dr Bob Every, AO, a former non-executive chairman of Wesfarmers; and John Harnden, the Chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation.
I thank all directors for their excellent contribution to Australian cricket over the past year.
At the international level, Australia has been very much part of ongoing governance reform, which has seen the appointment of an independent Chairman of the ICC. We are also pushing to reform the structure of the international competition, to create greater context and ensure that all three formats remain popular with fans. We continue to promote change on the cricket, governance and financial fronts, which will enable the game’s ongoing growth and development.
A year of innovation
Cricket relishes its traditions, but continues to change the nature of sport.
The past year has demonstrated the remarkable nature of cricket: it is a game rich in history and century-old rivalries, yet it continues to establish new benchmarks for sport.
It began with two Ashes series in England. Sadly for us, the men were forced to hand over the urn after a 3-2 defeat. Our women, however, regained their Ashes on UK soil for the first time since 2001, taking out the multi-format system after seven hard-fought matches.
Just a few short months later, and Adelaide Oval was host to the first ever day/night Test match, between Australia and New Zealand. Such was the success of that game that this summer there will be two “pink ball” Tests, one against South Africa at Adelaide, and one against Pakistan in Brisbane.
Cricket’s Big Bash League, in its fifth iteration for the men and first for the women, set new attendance and broadcasting records. It was the remarkable success of the first WBBL series that really captured the nation’s imagination but that does not mean we will rest on our laurels – we know we have substantial work to do to make cricket the first-choice sport for women and girls.
One further point on cricket’s innovation – right now, more than 8000 children across five states and one territory are trialling a new junior format, with shorter pitches and smaller playing areas. It is all about making the game easier to learn, introducing many more people to the joys of our sport.
Tributes and milestones
Success on the field is, inevitably, tinged with sadness off it.
We were all devastated when John Bannon, the former South Australian premier and a CA Board member since 2008, passed away in December, aged 72. John had also served as a director on the South Australian Cricket Association board from 2000, and was co-chair of the National Indigenous Cricket Advisory Council.
As I said at the time of his passing, on a personal level I miss his friendship, wisdom and guidance. He was always selfless in the way that he was prepared to share his knowledge to better other people and the game.
Among those who played cricket at the highest level, we have sadly farewelled: Len Maddocks, a wicketkeeper who played seven Tests during the 1950s, aged 90; Jen Jacobs, an allrounder who played in seven Test matches and 13 one-day internationals, aged 60; Max Walker, who played 34 Tests and 17 one-day internationals, aged 68; and John Gleeson, who played 29 Tests between 1967 and 1972, aged 78.
We also mourned the passing of ABC broadcaster Norman “Nugget” May, at the age of 88.
On the sporting field itself, I would like to honour the retirement of Mitchell Johnson. He deserves to be recognised as one of our best fast bowlers, with 313 Test wickets from 73 Tests at an average of 28.4. He was awarded the International Cricket Council’s Cricketer of the Year award in 2009 and 2014, along with our own 2014 Allan Border Medal.
Mitch’s retirement followed those of Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris and Chris Rogers, noted in my predecessor’s report last year. Such departures provide new opportunities for others, and I would like to recognise the outstanding performances of our new captain and deputy captain, Steve Smith and David Warner.
There has been legitimate concern at our men’s performances in the recent Test series in Sri Lanka, but it should be remembered that it was the youngest and least experienced side we had sent to South Asia for many years. I believe we have the foundations of an outstanding squad with such excellent leadership.
The women swept all before them on their tour of Sri Lanka, and of particular note was the milestone achieved by Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars vice-captain Alex Blackwell, who became just the third Australian woman – and ninth internationally – to record 3000 runs in ODI cricket.
One of the other Australians to reach this milestone, Karen Rolton, recently became the first woman to be granted honorary life membership of the South Australian Cricket Association.
And only recently it was announced that the Southern Stars have won the inaugural ICC Women’s Championship, an outstanding achievement. The Championship has seen the eight participating nations compete against each other in ODIs between 2014 and 2016.
As I conclude my first year as Chairman of Cricket Australia, I would like to pay tribute to the organisation, so ably led by James Sutherland as its CEO. He is undoubtedly Australia’s leading sports administrator, and the continuous desire for innovation and success is a direct result of the passion that he and his staff have for the game.
I would like to thank the state and territory associations, their boards, executive and staff. Cricket reaches every corner of this country, and this is only possible because of their commitment and expertise.
Finally, this game only thrives because of the strength of its grassroots – the tens of thousands, even in winter, who simply want to enjoy the basic contest of bat versus ball. At Cricket Australia, we have a vision to be the sport for all Australians. We can only achieve that by reminding ourselves, every day, who owns our sport – and that is every one of us.
Cricket Australia Chairman