Australia news August 9, 2011

Kasprowicz presses the case for change

Australian cricket's newest decision maker, Michael Kasprowicz, joins the Cricket Australia board as an unapologetic advocate of sweeping change to the governance of the game.

Kasprowicz is among the most amiable men in cricket, and as a Test match fast bowler was among the most stout hearted and resourceful of practitioners. But he is also a sharp observer and thinker, and little more than three years ago he was out of favour with Cricket Australia as one of the senior players to decamp to the Indian Cricket League.

His promotion to the CA board is itself the product of reform, as Queensland Cricket last year revised its constitution to prevent state board members from holding national directorships. Kasprowicz had no hesitation declaring more was needed at CA headquarters.

"I don't think [my views] will change too much," Kasprowicz told ESPNcricinfo. "At some stages there will be different arguments presented, but one of the big ones is the corporate governance in the game.

"Look at what the AFL [Australian football] have done through their consultants in David Crawford and Colin Carter and the way that AFL has just blossomed because of the changes in making an independent commission running the game and looking after the welfare of the game. Now there is a review by Crawford and Carter of cricket, we're in a position where there are going to be some real benefits for cricket by adopting those kinds of changes."

Walking onto the board from the presidency of the Australian Cricketers Association, Kasprowicz has over the past year augmented his own playing, business and study background with a working knowledge of Australian cricket's administrative and financial landscape.

"One thing I think I can bring to the board is some freshness, freshness of ideas, but also to use the cliché - a blend of youth and experience. That means a lot now," he said. "In the 19 years I played cricket for Queensland and the years since, being involved as a broadcaster in the commentary box but also as the ACA president, I've seen a whole change in Australian cricket. Right from the days when I began to where we are today.

"So I've been involved with the game the whole way through and I can bring that experience to the board. What I've always found is the one thing the game has always had and always needs is passion, passion for the game.

"There's no segment of the cricket community more passionate than the players, the people that have actually represented their state or represented their country because there's a passion for keeping the game current, keeping it at the top where it needs to be, and that's what I can certainly bring."

That passion includes T20, but unlike his board predecessor Matthew Hayden, Kasprowicz expressed a more even view of the balance between T20 and the game's longer forms. Test cricket, he believes, will benefit from new audiences brought to it through T20.

"Having played the first season in England when it first came out [in 2003], I've been involved in the game and seen where it's come from," Kasprowicz said. "I think it's a wonderful vehicle, a re-branding of the game of cricket and putting it on the shelf to a whole new marketplace. That's what it is designed to do.

"It's not designed to take over, that's one thing I don't think we can do, but what it is going to do is introduce the game to new people, to new customers, so they come along and enjoy the game, enjoy the outing. In that introduction they get to appreciate the skill of the game.

"For those lovers of the game of cricket, of which I'm certainly one, we all know the best test of skill in cricket is Test cricket, so ultimately I would hope that [T20 converts] will become customers of the game of cricket in the long term. That's the challenge cricket has at the moment, is capturing that young market."

Cricket's task in Australia is to capture the young without losing sight of the old, and Kasprowicz did not hesitate to say the resources provided by former players had been under utilised. As an ICL participant, Kasprowicz was ostracised for some time in a manner similar to Jason Gillespie, and said the loss of that generation of players had contributed greatly to the Australian team's parlous state today.

"Have a look at the times when Australian cricket went through a trough, and how it all correlated to rebel tours, if you like," Kasprowicz said. "We had World Series Cricket and went through a slump, rebel tours to South Africa and there was a slump, and then all of a sudden IPL/ICL as well.

"And I think the reason that happens is you're still losing your best players but it's your next rung players, senior players in domestic cricket. I just reckon there've been three distinct times when that has happened. The ICL was one of those things where a wealth of experienced players in our domestic game were told not to come back and not to be involved.

"One of the greatest resources that our game possesses is the players, and the ex-players as far as experience, coaching and opinions, that's what we have. From a player's point of view that's something that I don't reckon we've captured as well as we could have, or we should."

Kasprowicz has a few plans to re-arrange first but intends to be present at CA's next board meeting on August 18 and 19, when the findings from the Don Argus-led review into the performance of the Australian team are expected to be tabled.

"There's a number of reviews being conducted at the moment in Australian cricket, one on corporate governance, also the Don Argus cricket review and also one with finances," Kasprowicz said. "So there's going to be some findings out of that, and you'd think there's going to be some good results there and ways to take cricket forward."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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