Kevin Roberts lost his trust and respect as CA CEO - Speed

Malcolm Speed says Nick Hockley faces a tough task ahead as the new Cricket Australia chief executive.

Former ICC chief executive, Malcolm Speed.   -  REUTERS

Kevin Roberts lost his trust and respect as Cricket Australia CEO and paid the price for it, former ICC CEO Malcolm Speed has said.

Roberts resigned as CA’s top boss and was temporarily replaced by T20 World Cup chief executive Nick Hockley amid the financial crisis faced by the cricket board due to the COVID-19 crisis.

“It seems to me he lost the respect and trust of the players. As an old mentor once said to me, ‘respect and trust are like virginity; once you’ve lost them they’re mighty hard to get back,’” Speed said on SEN radio.

“I think that’s what happened to Kevin. He lost trust and respect. When he came into the job he had time to work on that. That didn’t go very well. Then he stumbled, he didn’t deliver the message very well.”

Roberts, who had a difficult last three months, had earlier received flak for his role in the bitter pay dispute with Australia’s cricket players in 2017.

Challenges

A difficult road now lies ahead for Hockey. He will have to earn the trust of different stakeholders, including the States, players and staff, many of whom have been affected by the economic fallout of the health crisis. There is also the uncertainty surrounding the T20 World Cup, which is scheduled to be held later this year in Australia. A decision on it is likely when the ICC meets next month.

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“There’s no tougher time. This is a bit like introducing a new off-spinner and asking him to bowl his first over to Virat Kohli,” Speed said.

“I don’t know Nick Hockley, I think he’s been around cricket for a while. He’s going to face many challenges here. We’re in about round six of a 15-rounder with COVID - I think that’s still the case.”

Salary cuts

Roberts was widely criticised for reducing the salaries of 80 percent of its staff to 20 percent, reducing grants to the States and negotiating for a new pay deal with players. Speed said these decisions could have been handled better. “A chief executive doesn’t just pop up and say ‘I’ve put 80 percent of the staff on 20 percent of their salary’, that has to go through the board,” Speed said.

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“The whole process, the State cuts, player payments would’ve gone through the board. Kevin then becomes the messenger, he didn’t handle that side of it very well. Certainly, the board would be right across those decisions.”

Former captain Allan Border said on Tuesday Roberts alone was not responsible for Cricket Australia’s financial woes.

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