Australia news February 27, 2012

CA board reform put on hold

Cricket Australia's chairman Wally Edwards is confident the organisation will end up being run by an independent commission despite "significant constitutional issues" standing in the way of the move. Edwards said there was no need to rush through the changes recommended by the Crawford-Carter governance review in December, which would include state boards giving up their seats on the board of CA.

The proposal was endorsed by the CA board two months ago but had to be approved by the state boards, and hurdles have arisen at state level. Edwards said the issues had been discussed at a board meeting in Melbourne on Monday and he hoped progress would be made on resolving the problems by the next board meeting in April.

"There's a whole variety of issues coming from different states, some of them going in a different direction to others," Edwards said. "But the reality is there are some significant constitutional issues that will have to be grappled with. [For example], the SACA, who have 19,000 members, would require constitutional change. What's possible there we have to work through.

"There's no magic to this. The overall mood of the room is goodwill. I'm confident we will get to a satisfactory end but that said, who knows. There are still a lot of issues to be dealt with. In the end the Cricket Australia board can only lead everybody to the trough. It's then a matter of the state associations having a nice big drink."

The key recommendation of the Crawford-Carter report was that the number of CA board directors would be reduced from 14 to nine, and none would be permitted to hold official positions with state associations. That would be a major departure from the century-old system in which New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, as CA founding members, had more seats on the board and therefore more power.

While the smaller states might win a more equitable position under an independent commission, the issues are complicated by a review of CA's financial model that was running concurrently with the governance review. Edwards confirmed that there had been concerns that some states might be financially worse off under the new system, and had sought guarantees that that would not be the case.

"It would appear to me that both of these reviews will come together in the end in one set of constitutional changes and certainly you'd expect those sort of questions," Edwards said. "We have a leap of faith - how big is it? That's some of the work we still have to do before some of the state chairmen meet in March, so we'll be putting meat on all those bones, trying to get more detail of guarantees and how it will relate to each state."

The March meeting of state board chairmen will in effect be a working group aiming to smooth out some of the issues ahead of April's board meeting. Edwards said despite the delays - the board had hoped that the state organisations would be ready to approve the changes by this month - he was hopeful an independent commission would eventually be ratified.

"I'm still very confident," he said. "I don't believe we've got any hurdles that are insurmountable at this point. The issues that have come out of this first round of responses are constitutional issues that we'll need to do a little bit of work on. What needs to happen at state land to be able to make some of these changes is in some circumstances quite complex."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here