Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cricket Australia to feel force of industrial changes

Australian cricket could be about to witness some huge changes after Cricket Australia appointed three business behemoths to the new board – none with previous management experience in the sport.

Rio Tinto managing director David Peever and former chief exec of a retail company Kevin Roberts are two men relatively unknown outside the world of business, yet they will oversee the development of cricket in Australia for the foreseeable future.

Among the three new appointments is Jacquie Hey, the first female board member at Cricket Australia for 107 years, a decision that is likely to open the gateways for further attention and investment into the women’s game. Yet while this potential will no-doubt be warmly accepted by cricket fans across the world, there are concerns that in appointing three non-cricketing board members the CA could switch its focus away from the sport.

Business people at board level are good for protecting revenue streams, income flows and every other kind of corporate mumbo jumbo, and the concern is the actual sport may be swept under the carpet. The IPL is a perfect example of a top-heavy tournament that increasingly looks likely to implode on itself.

The CA’s current big project, the Big Bash League, is struggling to garner the IPL-like attention it craves. Maybe it is coincidence that after a poor debut BBL the sport’s governing body brings in three business bigwigs to oversee things. Money is increasingly becoming a deciding factor in cricket but the CA must be careful not to side too heavily with ‘good business’ ideas and risk straying away from communal, grass roots investment.

Australia is still struggling to replicate the talents of their ‘golden generation’ and it will take a few years of hard work to develop a new set of talented cricketers. These three appointments must keep to advisory roles and not delve into CA policy, a move that would potentially risk the financial future of cricket in the country.

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