THE Cricket Australia review has set off an uncontrollable locomotive of bad press for Australian cricket as retired players bounce out of the woodwork to slam their former employer.
To say the damning Longstaff report — a 145-page investigation published in an effort to fix Aussie cricket’s “arrogant” corporate cricket culture — has divided opinion in the sporting world would be a gross understatement.
Some believe the infamous “win at all costs” culture referenced in the review needs to be torn down, while others maintained it was those four words that propelled the baggy green to its world-beating best.
Recommendations to pick players based on character were immediately blasted by Allan Border, who shot down the review in classical Captain Grumpy fashion: “Isn’t it about winning?”
Then Andrew Symonds went for the jugular.
The former Aussie all-rounder bluntly took down what he believes to be the biggest problem facing Australia in an interview with The Daily Telegraph’sBen Horne.
“As a kid growing up, you wanted to play Test cricket. That hunger, I believe is gone,” Symonds said, citing the growing number of cricketers content with playing limited overs cricket their entire career.
“Not from all players, but from some. They’re happy to go around the world and just play white ball cricket and that, to me, is extraordinary.”
Symonds was a much-loved icon of the baggy green throughout his career.Source:News Limited
Symonds said the claim CA was going to be more transparent with players was “the biggest load of horse shit you’ve ever heard in your life”. The 43-year-old doubled down on his attack on FOX Sports’ Back Page Live, blasting Aussie skipper Tim Paine’s announcement of the “Players’ Pact”.
The 26-Test star said the declaration of Australian stars “smiling, dreaming and fighting” was a “panic tactic”.
“The boys have said, ‘You’ve got to come up with something, you’ve got to be seen to be making an effort’,” he said.
“And it’s a bit corny, isn’t it? That’s not the Australian cricket way in my opinion.
“They could have come up with something a lot better than that, or as I said, they need to sit down and nut some of these things out.”
Then banned skipper Steve Smith came into the firing line. Symonds declared the NSW product wasn’t a natural born leader and “doesn’t like confrontation”.
“Unfortunately, we also haven’t had a natural born leader in the group or a number of leaders,” Symonds said.
“He needed to tell David Warner to pull his head in a couple of years ago and say, ‘Mate, I’ll do the captaining, you the batting and everything will be dandy.
“It didn’t happen and over time you could see cracks starting to appear.”
HORNS LOCKED OVER REVIEW
The cultural review recommended players’ character be taken into account in the selection process. While obviously well-intentioned, the recommendation fails to address tough scenarios, such as a bad-tempered but in-form player being dropped or a rough sledger being denied a baggy green despite bashing down the door with runs and wickets.
Allan Border said the attack plan “wouldn’t last”.
“I’m not too sure what to make of all that (criticism of the win at all costs mentality), because once you get to this level of sport, isn’t it about winning?” Border questioned on Fox Sports news.
“Yes, how you win is very, very important, but it is about winning.
“I don’t think we’re going to tolerate having 11 great blokes out in the field and not winning any games. That won’t last, it’s not sustainable.
“It’s how you win that’s very, very important … You play hard and you play fair but you play to win. At this level it’s as simple as that.”
ACA president Greg Dyer criticised CA, accusing head office of enforcing the “win at all costs” attitude with an iron fist.
“Longstaff talks at length about those additional pressures,” Dyer said. “I’ll reference one particular example — when a chief executive walks into a changeroom and says, ‘Players, you’re not here to play cricket, you’re here to win.’
“Personally … I witnessed (unsportsmanlike) behaviours over a period of time and it was very clear on-field aggression was moving down a path that I personally wasn’t comfortable with.”
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