A remarkable turnaround in Australia’s fortunes

Australia had an eventful, often turbulent 2018, marked by all kinds of leadership-related turmoil, both on and off the field. Earl Eddings, Cricket Australia (CA) chairman, has since overseen a remarkable turnaround in Australia’s fortunes. Sportstar sat down with him in Mumbai to review the past 18 months.

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.

Has the ball-tampering scandal changed how CA is run?

I think we just had the right people at the right spot. 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 CA 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 our cricketers. 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.

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