David Peever, the Cricket Australia chairman, criticised former players for expressing outrage at Australia’s behaviour before the board handed down bans of up to 12 months on the captain Steven Smith, his deputy David Warner, and the young opener Cameron Bancroft, following their exposure for ball tampering in Cape Town.
In audio obtained by ESPNcricinfo, Peever is heard on a teleconference call to the state associations on March 26 – the day after the Newlands Test concluded – making noises about wanting the game to be an encouragement to parents and their children, before lapsing into something more cynical about the public reaction to the events.
“All of that said, though, I have been interested in the fact that I didn’t realise so many former cricketers were such angels reading the press,” Peever said, in an off-hand remark that on the audio was received with strangled laughter by others on the call.
The revelation of Peever’s statement about past players took place two days before CA chose to ban Smith and Warner for 12 months, and Bancroft for nine months. Smith and Bancroft were also barred from captaincy for two years, and Warner for life. Smith and Bancroft took the lead in accepting the sanctions, before Warner also assented to them on Thursday.
CA had been subject to multiple instances of former Australian players questioning the behaviour of the national team prior to the events of the Cape Town Test. Former Test allrounder Tom Veivers revealed last month that he and former captain Brian Booth had previously written to the CA chief executive James Sutherland and been rebuffed.
“I would like to see James Sutherland take a tougher stance,” Veivers told The Courier-Mail. “Brian Booth and I wrote to him a couple of years ago saying this and he wrote back and said we had to realise the game has changed from our day and it is a lot tougher. I disagree. The game was tough back in our day. What has changed is the sportsmanship. Cricket Australia has to do something about it.”
Peever, a former Rio Tinto executive, who joined the CA Board in 2012 and succeeded Wally Edwards as chairman in 2015, has long been evasive of speaking publicly. Before his press conference on Friday, where he named former Test batsman Rick McCosker to chair a cultural review of the game, Peever had previously made himself available for questions at the CA AGM last October, following acrimonious MoU negotiations with the Australian Cricketers Association.
“I think we’re all going to come under the microscope in terms of what is occurring back in the organisation that might have contributed to this,” Peever told reporters in Brisbane. “But I can tell you this, circumstances like this are not the time for witch- hunts.
“I know people in these circumstances call for everybody to be sacked. Clearly, that isn’t going to solve any problems. What we must do now is work on the issues that we have and we take responsibility for fixing them and making them better.”
This week, it was revealed by Fairfax Media that Peever had rounded on the Ten Network in correspondence with the CBS executive Armando Nunez, after CA rejected a joint broadcast rights bid by Ten and Nine as “non-compliant”. Peever described local management of Ten as “bottom feeders” to Nunez.
“Unfortunately, your team has completely messed this up,” Peever said in the email to Nunez. “I expected much more, given our discussions and the unique position we were affording 10. Frankly, the tactics are appalling on a number of levels.” He then added that “I feel they [Ten] are not prepared to challenge their operating model to be anything other than bottom feeders in this market.”
The ball-tampering scandal has resulted in the withdrawal of CA’s Test naming rights sponsor Magellan, while coinciding with Nine Network’s decision to sign a five-year, A$300 million deal to cover tennis over summer, having been the major broadcaster of cricket in Australia for more than 40 years.