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Awkward choices for Cricket Australia in wake of ball tampering scandal
With Cricket Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland travelling to South Africa to deal with matters resulting from the ball tampering incident in the third Test against South Africa, the body is facing some awkward choices.
Cricket Australia needs to consider penalties that it will hand down to the players involved - captain Steve Smith, vice captain David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, and perhaps coach Darren Lehmann - it is also acutely aware of how its action will be perceived by the game’s stakeholders as well as commercial partners.
Several Cricket Australia sponsors, including Asics, CommBank, Qantas and Toyota, have expressed disappointment over the incident and made it clear that the admitted cheating doesn’t align with their values.
In addition, Cricket Australia is also currently negotiating a new broadcasting deal, which some sources have suggested could be worth up to $1 billion.
With massive potential damage to the brand of the Australian men’s cricket team and Cricket Australia, it is likely that firm action will be taken to reset cultural and leadership issues surrounding the men’s national structure.
Jaimie Fuller, sporting integrity campaigner and Executive Chairman of compression sportswear company Skins, yesterday took out an advertisement in today’s Sydney Morning Herald demanding Cricket Australia take swift action.
Fuller tells AdNews that sponsors “will be horrified, but I doubt they will do anything”.
“I’d love to see public statements from Cricket Australia sponsors not only condemning the action but telling Cricket Australia they are on notice.
“I don’t think that is going to come through because sponsors tend to be extremely conservative.”
While Skins does not currently sponsor the Australian cricket team, it has previously been represented by former test captain Steve Waugh as an ambassador.
Skins led a campaign to call out sponsors who backed world football governing body FIFA in the wake of a corruption scandal involving former FIFA President Sepp Blatter and senior officials in the organisation.
Experienced sport administrator Neil Maxwell, Chairman of the prestigious Sydney Cricket Club sees why the scandal is impacting fans, explaining “the bottom line is it’s had such a strong impact on the fans and other stakeholders because there is such a passion for the game and respect for the team.
“There’s hundreds of years of the Australian cricket team representing the values and the principles of Australian society.”
Maxwell believes there will be an inevitable impact on how fans perceive the Australian cricket team and its administrative body, Cricket Australia, adding “the fans have felt let down because we’ve always prided ourselves on playing the game hard but fair and we’ve breached the fair boundary.
“There’s going to have to be a reset as a team. The Australian cricket team has gone too far. We’ve openly encouraged a strong verbal approach to the game, which I think pushed the boundaries on a few fronts as far as fans are concerned, but we’ve never transgressed into this are that would be termed unfair or cheating.”
The damage to Cricket Australia is primarily around the values in which the national team is held up to by fans, sponsors, broadcasters and other stakeholders.
Fuller believes the fallout will be massive, but points out it must be taken in the context of six years of governance and cultural issues.
He adds “the damage is huge. As far as individual cricketers are concerned, most people understand there is a win at all cost mentality that comes into cricket and most elite sports ... certainly we've seen a lot of unattractive behaviour by this team in recent years.
“Maybe what we are seeing now could be the catalyst that shakes it up and gets rid of this stupid, childish behaviour that we are seeing with some of these guys.”
Both Maxwell and Fuller hope this incident will serve as a catalyst for change to begin repairing “brand damage”, but “it will take time”.
Maxwell concludes “clearly this has potential to impact on a number of aspects of cricket’s business, but the fact that there is such brand equity associated with the team built up over hundreds of years, it’s hard to lose all of that through one incident and a couple of people.
“If addressed proportionately and accordingly, that will minimise the chance of that impact of those consequences.”
So far, Smith and Warner have been stood down, Smith has received a one test ban, Bancroft has been issued with three demerit points and Cricket Australia has launched an internal investigation.
Images: Steven Smith is sponsored by Sanitarium (top) and Magellen have a three-year sponsorship deal with Cricket Australia (below).
25th March 2018 - AUSTRALIAN SPORTS COMMISSION CALLS FOR STEVE SMITH TO BE STOOD DOWN
25th March 2018 - AUSTRALIAN CRICKET IN TURMOIL OVER BALL-TAMPERING SCANDAL
9th February 2018 - ICC FINDS NO EVIDENCE OF MATCH-FIXING IN ASHES TEST
25th January 2018 - REFORM ADVOCACY GROUP CALLS ON FIFA TO PUT PAST IN ORDER AND ADVANCE
2nd August 2017 - CRICKET AUSTRALIA AND PLAYERS’ UNION REACH LANDMARK PAY DEAL
28th April 2017 - PLAYERS REJECT CRICKET AUSTRALIA PAY OFFER
27th October 2016 - PROFIT DOWNTURN PRESENTS CHALLENGES FOR CRICKET AUSTRALIA
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