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‘Out of touch’: Former director urges CA to return control to states

A former Cricket Australia board member has called for a change in the game's governance, saying the revolutionary reforms of 2012 had led to the current "disaster".

Ian McLachlan, a minister in the Howard Government and chairman of the South Australian Cricket Association, has urged CA to return control to the states by giving them the power to choose their own directors in order to regain a greater connection to the game at the grassroots level.

Credentials: Ian McLachlan was a minister in the Howard Government, a former CA director and former chairman of the SACA.

Credentials: Ian McLachlan was a minister in the Howard Government, a former CA director and former chairman of the SACA.Credit:Mike Bowers

McLachlan, a CA director from 2004 to 2012, believes a "properly constructed board" would resolve issues like the situation with chairman David Peever, who is facing widespread pressure to resign.

McLachlan, who was a vocal opponent of the changes proposed by the Crawford Carter review into CA's governance, wants to return to a similar board model to the one that was disbanded in 2012.

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The old 14-member CA board was disbanded in favour of a streamlined, nine-person board, including three independents. Directors were no longer allowed to also sit on their state boards due to perceived conflicts of interest.

McLachlan does not want a return to an expanded board where some states had more votes than others but feels elements of the old system had served the game well as directors had greater understanding of the game through connections to their states.

The Ethics Centre review, released this week, found that while the reports by Crawford Carter and Don Argus (into the national team in 2011) had brought much success to CA, they had also helped create an "unmediated corporate model". Respondents complained of CA being "dictatorial" in its approach.

"For all of its wealth and associated power, CA needs to be seen as more of a partner in the development of the game – rather than its master," the review said.

A member of the CA executive told the review that the governing body "needs to better collaborate with those at the coalface. There is a lot of passion and knowledge amongst the states.
CA does not always know best."

Currently, prospective CA board members must go through a nominations committee, comprised of state and CA directors.

"What the states should do is to be able to appoint their own board member to Cricket Australia whenever they like and whoever they like. These nomination committees, I don't like them," McLachlan said.

McLachlan had been on the nominations committee, which selected the inaugural group of independent directors.

"Until they let the states elect their own person to the board, the states will simply be told what to do from Jolimont, and that's exactly not the way to run cricket," McLachlan said.

"That was the one mistake in the Carter/Crawford report. It says CA is there to represent its owners, and the states are the owners, but it also contradicts that by saying the owners can't have a direct member on the board.

"That in my view has led to the owners not knowing anything because they're not told anything."

McLachlan said there was too much power centralised in Melbourne, where CA's head office is based. Three directors also reside in Melbourne.

"They'd never have got to this position if the states were around the table. They are not in touch with cricket day to day. Cricket day to day is hundreds of thousands of people," McLachlan said.

"It's the remoteness and distance between everybody living in one town and everybody out there waiting for instructions. It's nonsensical.

"This centralisation, I'm afraid to say, has brought about the players losing touch with the board, the board have lost touch with the local level and the administration is simply a series of instructions coming out of Melbourne."

There would need to be changes to CA's constitution in order for the governance system to change. Insiders do not expect the game would head back to its old structure.

McLachlan believes state-based CA board members would result in more cricket experience on the board. Expertise outside the game could come from the three independents, McLachlan said.

Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald