Happy the focus is back on cricket, says Cricket Australia chairman 

Appointed in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal which rocked Australian cricket, CA chairman Earl Eddings reflects on the last 18 months.

Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings has overseen a remarkable turnaround in Australia's fortunes since his appointment.   -  V. V. Krishnan

Australia had an eventful 2018 marked by leadership-related turmoil, but Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings is happy the focus is back on cricket.

Australia had an eventful, often turbulent 2018, marked by all kinds of leadership-related turmoil, both on and off the field. Even as David Peever became 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 chairman. 

Since then, Eddings has overseen a remarkable turnaround in Australia's fortunes. Sportstar sat down with him to review the past 18 months and the way forward for the team. 

Australia's transition from a team in turmoil to a formidable opponent again, has been seamless. What changed?

There were challenges we went through 18 months ago but underneath all of it, this was still a very good side. We probably weren't playing the way we wanted to. The big change was having Justin (Langer) as coach: he brings very strong values to the team, having a great captain like Tim Paine stand up. He was out of the system for a while and didn't have the chance to lead Australia earlier because of a finger injury (in 2010). And the players, more importantly, have just fallen into their roles as custodians of the game. It's an exciting bunch of young men who realise that 'yes, we got to play hard but also need to uphold the spirit of cricket' and the realisation has reflected in our performance in the past year.

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Justin Langer in many ways is in the middle of the change in Australian cricket culture. How important a role has he played?

He had done very well coaching domestically, leaving a lasting impact on the Perth Scorchers (three Big Bash Leagues titles in BBL 03, BBL 04 and BBL 06). Under his mentorship, Western Australia went from a struggling side to one of the title contenders. So, we always knew he was a young and emerging coach and he had also been around the Australian side as our batting coach. Justin understood the pride of playing for Australia at the highest level... and not to mention it requires a skilled mind to bring together 40-50 players from different formats and states... It took him a while to get used to it, probably didn't enjoy the first six months by his own admission but to his and the support staff's credit, their work has been exemplary thus far.

Eddings has praised Australia coach Justin Langer and his staff's exemplary work. Photo: Getty Images

 

What is the rationale behind appointing contemporary cricketers on the CA board?

On any board, you need a mix of skills. At CA, we have got cricket skills with Mel (Jones) and Michael (Kasprowicz) and a good mix of business, commercial and the media. The idea is to not have too much of one thing. So you have got a feel for the game, you know how to maximise the commerciality but above everything else, you prioritise the custodianship of the game. 

Has the ball-tampering scandal changed, for good, how Cricket Australia is run?

I think we just had the right people at the right spot... we had a great turnover not just on the field but at an administrative level as well. These people are doing the right things at the right time; this isn't to say the predecessors weren't but when you endure a crisis like that (ball-tampering), it galvanises everyone to work as a team. Bringing in Kevin Roberts as the CEO has been fantastic for the organisation and the sport. It has allowed us to get the focus back on cricket and make common-sense decisions about our roles within the organisation.

In retrospect, did Cricket Australia handle the Newlands incident as best as it could?

I would we rather look forward to the future instead of harking back to the past but having said that, we managed as well as we could in the circumstances given the outpouring of grief not just in Australia but worldwide. As a board, we understood we had to take some drastic measures, so we got an independent panel (by Simon Longstaff and Rick McCosker) to review our culture which led to several different changes. What other countries want to do is up to them... we expect certain standards of conduct from cricketers representing our country, so it was really important for us to make it stand.  It was also unfortunate that the players had six months off, so a six-month ban wouldn't have made anything. We were conscious of that too. Interestingly, immediately after that the ICC too increased its ban. That showed that cricket around the world expected more and that's the standard Australia sets.