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Kasprowicz presses the case for change

Daniel Brettig

August 9, 2011

Comments: 18 | Text size: A | A

Michael Kasprowicz bowls during his successful spell, Queensland v Sri Lankans, 3rd day, Brisbane, November 4, 2007
Michael Kasprowicz is an unapologetic advocate of governance reforms © Getty Images
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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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Posted by hyclass on (August 11, 2011, 2:49 GMT)

Young people play cricket.There are local comps that start in primary school and work their way to seniors.Participation has statistically never been higher.Club cricket is often a family affair.Families go to games.Old and young.Thats how its always been.Australia has an outstanding viewership of cricket.But thats all changing.In a calculated move,CA,through its sponsorship with Vodaphone,has pushed a phone tv watching model.They want BBL because it fits with the youth uptake of this technology.Other games have been sold to paytv.Australia has a poor uptake of paytv.What business,revokes its best asset,its traditions and historical appeal by removing free viewership.I submit that falls in attendance are the outcome of deliberate policies by CA to diminish traditional cricket,both in success and in viewership,through inexplicable appointment and policies to justify 20/20.The last four years prove it,Former Board member,Haydens recent proclamations were proof enough of views held at CA

Posted by duralsumo on (August 10, 2011, 23:50 GMT)

I agree with you hyclass. I have been advocate of a stonger Shield including all test players split over two sections of the season. October and February. That way the younger players develop their skills against the best. Further Cricket Australia must look at promoting the domestic game better than it does currently. With multi TV channels on Free to Air maybe a contract to show domestic cricket on one of the minor digital channels will give more exposure than the current pay TV contract or even show some shield on pay TV. That is utopia though!

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (August 10, 2011, 14:13 GMT)

Players such as Hayden, Gilchrist and Warne should have been encouraged to spend 2 or 3 more seasons playing shield cricket after retirement guiding young players. Instead they chose to go to the IPL. This may be one reason for our poor recent test performances.

Posted by hyclass on (August 10, 2011, 9:51 GMT)

@Pres...with due respect,if young people arent being drawn to traditional cricket,then where are the crowds coming from?Australia still has one of the highest per capita attendances of traditional cricket in the world. It also has a fabulous participation rate at club level.This is despite the rapid change from free to air tv and radio coverage,to paytv dominated coverage. What business model in the world can hope to succeed without marketing to its entire audience?Australia has a very low uptake of paytv. De Costa,a coach of juniors in India and the mentor to Clarke and Hughes has said,there is virtually no instruction in 20/20 cricketing techniques at junior level in India. Players there are required to be drilled in traditional techniques.This is in stark contrast to the attitudes in australia.With respect to Kasper and the idea that cricketers bring freshness and passion,it is currently cricketers and a staggering lack of judgement who have brought australia to the brink.

Posted by RandyOZ on (August 10, 2011, 4:30 GMT)

@correctcall, I agree with Meety's lighthearted comment. The fact that England has so many ex-South Africans in the team is a disgrace, and I have English mates who agree. Not so much the likes of Strauss and Prior, but people like Trott, who played for South Africa U19s. Aussies would definitely be turned away if we thought that these types of imported players were getting a game ahead of home grown youngsters (let alone the fact it would mean our depth is terrible - a la England batting). This is not the answer. In terms of coaches and administration staff, sure we may have some bad eggs at the moment, but the fact is we've had good people in the past, and I am certain there are still good people around - we just need to have the guts to sack the duds - bring on the review.

Posted by RandyOZ on (August 10, 2011, 4:24 GMT)

I used to have the view of Woody11 but now I am swinging towards Meety and Kaspo himself. I believe that even if we have a bunch of kids who start in T20 cricket, some of those will gain the desire to want to don the baggy green. The history of test cricket should not be underestimated in persuading players to want to play test cricket. Of course you will always have players like Malinga who will just chase the money in T20, but some of the new geenration starting with T20 will definitely go to tests. Also not to be underestimated, is the challenge to players both technically, physically and mentally presented by test cricket. Although some test players will have a dash in the T20 for some quick cash, not everyone will be chasing a big bank balance. I also believe that in the long run, a distinguished test career will bring you more fruitful opportunities (outside of playing the game) than if you become a T20 star. Time will tell on this though.

Posted by hyclass on (August 10, 2011, 2:49 GMT)

The usual party line,speak without substance from Kasper.Desperate attempts to make him non threatening by association with his perceived amiable persona in his playing days,one i might add,that he himself refuted.Freshness,passion-all bs.Its professionalism and a ruthless dedication to integrity of process tied to results that brings success.If 20/20 is the panacea to all alleged test woes,have crowds to test matches and ODI over games increased in India and England where they have had a number of years to do so?Once again,there is an absence of factual data to support any statements or conclusions.It has been the hallmark of this administration and those in charge have tended to employee comrades in ideology.Kasper,the same as Hayden before him,has exposed the alarming CA philosophy of 20/20 at all costs.He claims that it is a win/win given players get exposure.Why do they need it?They have the Shield,Aust.A,state 50 overs and 20/20.If this isnt enough,then they arent good enough.

Posted by Pres. on (August 10, 2011, 2:48 GMT)

Kaspa's appointment is an outstanding step in the right direction. Full marks to Qld cricket for removing the conflict of interest that State board members bring too. I agree with his view on new, young audiences enjoying T20 then when they become a bit older, they find the longer format is more in step with their perspective on life. Finally his comments on passion are spot on, if those working in Cricket bring relevant skills and passion we cant go wrong.

Posted by Meety on (August 10, 2011, 0:30 GMT)

@Truemans_Ghost - I agree. I think the ICL, (in principle), was a better tournament than the IPL. Obviously the star power ended up in the IPL, but the tournament structure, also with "national" teams etc was way better. For Cricket Boards then to bow to the BCCI was VERY dissappointing in my view. It was interesting that at one point in time the ICL wanted a "Super Bowl" type play off between the winners of both comps - the BCCI declined, (obviously because the mere chance the ICL team could win was too big a risk - would be a PR nightmare!). Anti-competitive laws as you would know are banned in a lot of countries. The by-product is - that the outcasting of some senior cricketers in Oz (towards the end of their careers mainly), did cause a blip in the production line, that is causing some misfiring even today.

Posted by HatsforBats on (August 10, 2011, 0:06 GMT)

@Woody111: I think it is doing T20 fans a disservice to assume they'll never become fans of the longer format. Of course a 10 yr old will love all the big hits in T20, but I would think as they mature they'll recognise just how much better test cricket is. Personally, T20 bores me and I have rarely watched a full game, but I agree with Kaspa in that it is a great vehicle to attract new fans and new investment to cricket as a whole. My little sister used to love Britney Spears, and she still does, but thanks to some education and exposure she now loves Led Zeppelin.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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