Australian news February 8, 2011

Cricket Australia launches Ashes review

Australian cricket's on-field and off-field operations will be put under the microscope after Cricket Australia announced it would commission independent reviews of the game's governance and team performance. The two separate reviews have been called for in the wake of the humiliating 3-1 Ashes loss, which featured three innings defeats as well as some dubious selections.

The entire structure of Cricket Australia itself will be assessed, but what comes of the team performance review, which could intensify the heat on the coach Tim Nielsen and the chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch, is equally fascinating. The board wants the reviews to be complete by its annual general meeting in October, meaning there could be sweeping changes by this time next year.

"I don't think anyone is happy with what came out of the Ashes series and that's why the board has commissioned this review, to work out how we get the Australian cricket team back on top in Test cricket," CA's chief executive James Sutherland said. "It's a great opportunity. Out of what happened in the Ashes if we can closely examine some of the faults that the experts may deem to have caused this, then it won't occur again.

"In terms of what implications that has for people in certain roles right now, that will happen in due course. Andrew Hilditch is as disappointed as I am in the performance of Australian cricket in not winning the Ashes and being beaten how we were. We're really looking forward now."

The board has not yet decided what experts will be involved in the review, but those decisions should be made within the next three weeks. Jack Clarke, the chairman of Cricket Australia, said the team review would be "exhaustive, independent and transparent."

The governance review could result in a serious shake-up of Cricket Australia's structure, which includes an unusual arrangement at board level. As founding members, Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia each have three votes on the board, but Western Australia and Queensland receive two each, and Tasmania just one.

The corporate governance experts Colin Carter and David Crawford will be involved in the governance review, and Crawford has a history of instigating major overhauls. Crawford was responsible for a 1992 report that brought about the creation of the AFL Commission, and in 2003 he recommended the formation of the Football Federation of Australia.

A more recent Crawford report commissioned by the Australian government suggested a review of the way funding was divided between Olympic and non-Olympic sports, and met strong opposition from the Australian Olympic Committee. Carter is the president of the Geelong Football Club and spent 15 years as an AFL commissioner.

"I don't want to pre-empt what it is going to say," Clarke said. "The basis on which David Crawford and Colin Carter have been engaged is that they will provide a report to the board. The timing of that is not exact yet, it's up to the board then to decide which of those issues we do and do not go forward with."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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