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Lee slams Gilbert over NSW coach sacking

ESPNcricinfo staff

December 22, 2012

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Brett Lee, Scott Coyte and Brad Haddin, New South Wales v Western Australia, Ryobi Cup, Hurstville Oval, Sydney, October 17, 2010
Brett Lee (left): "I believe for the last five or six years New South Wales has seriously dropped the ball ... and it isn't the guys on the cricket field." © Getty Images
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Brett Lee has called on Cricket New South Wales to sack the chief executive David Gilbert after the board fired the head coach Anthony Stuart during the week. Lee, who plays for the Sydney Sixers but is no longer a New South Wales state player, said Stuart, who was appointed as head coach in mid-2011, had been the scapegoat for deficiencies within the state's cricket setup that had been apparent for several years.

"I think the blame for a lot of things has been unfairly dumped on Anthony Stuart," Lee told Fairfax Media. "It should have been at the top, Dave Gilbert. He should've been made to go in my opinion. Cricket New South Wales is all about leadership, and while that comes from the coach, it comes from the top, too, and I believe for the last five or six years New South Wales has seriously dropped the ball ... you can tell by their performances and it isn't the guys on the cricket field - it's the hierarchy."

New South Wales last won the Sheffield Shield in 2007-08 and the domestic one-day tournament in 2005-06, and for a state with such a proud history that is something of a drought. Lee said Gilbert, who has been chief executive for a decade, should have been held accountable by the board instead of getting rid of Stuart only a year and a half in to his two-year contract.

"If David Gilbert appoints Anthony Stuart and then basically fires him, even though they're saying his contract was not renewed, it was a bad call," Lee said. "Why is he still there? In my opinion, it is a terrible situation and while Anthony Stuart was given the tap on the shoulder I believe the board should have gone right to the top and started with David Gilbert."

Lee said he was also unhappy with the way he was treated during the final stages of his state career, including when he was told after an appendix operation early last summer that he would need to fly to Melbourne to play in an Under-19s game to prove his fitness.

"I wasn't going to 'earn' my stripes for them," Lee said. "I was 35 at the time and decided to just pull the pin. I'd proven my fitness by bowling in the nets for four weeks. It was a disgrace."

Lee said his impression of the current hierarchy at Cricket New South Wales had not improved when he announced his retirement earlier this year.

"When I retired I phoned David Gilbert to thank Cricket New South Wales for all it had done for me, and the opportunities it presented me," Lee said. "I believe in New South Wales cricket, I loved wearing the baggy blue, but I have not received a reply from him ... every person I phoned, Ricky Ponting, James Sutherland, Adam Gilchrist ... The only person who hadn't phoned me back was Dave Gilbert and Cricket New South Wales.

"It was disappointing but it's important in this context because it's about communication and support, something I believe is missing at New South Wales and it's having a negative effect on the team."

Lee said the only way things would change at New South Wales would be through changes at the top.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (December 24, 2012, 8:49 GMT)

Sad state of affairs. Australia needs NSW providing good players, there's lots of good young talent there despite all the departures and we need them developing into the best players they can be. Australia needs the likes of Henriques, Hazelwood, Cummins, Neville etc to be gaining full support.

Posted by Captain_Oblivious on (December 23, 2012, 7:11 GMT)

When I saw this headline on Cricinfo, I thought I'd either misread it or that it was another Lee. This is so completely unlike Brett Lee to slam someone in the press, confirming how bad things have become at NSW. All those decent players leaving had a good reason it seems...

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 23, 2012, 3:28 GMT)

@Meety, I cant be bothered as to what are the inside problems at NSW cricket. But as a Sri Lankan, I want to wish NSW state the very best of luck since CH has got the job as a coach.

Posted by PACERONE on (December 22, 2012, 22:44 GMT)

Brett Lee is a good cricketer and a good person.He would only get involved if something is not wrong.These boards all over the world is the cause of most of the problems teams are having.

Posted by Meety on (December 22, 2012, 22:12 GMT)

@ Tumbarumbar on (December 22 2012, 15:47 PM GMT) - I think you're right - if Brett Lee gets involved in a squabble, you can bet that there are more issues than just an under performing coach.

Posted by straight_drive4 on (December 22, 2012, 21:11 GMT)

Hmmm.. I find this article very interesting. I know a former NSW player who is only recently retired and I was speaking to him around the time that a lot of the players left and went interstate late year.. When I asked him about why they all left at the same time he actually told me they'd all had enough of the lack of support from dave Gilbert. He also said that his decision making was confusing and often the players would be left in the dark on many situations. But he made it clear that the players who were struggling were given no support whatsoever by the board and dave Gilbert in particular. Didn't think much of the comments until I read this..

Posted by Tumbarumbar on (December 22, 2012, 15:47 GMT)

What's the best indication that there's something deeply wrong with NSW cricket? No it's not that the least likely bloke in the entire cricketing world to get involved has gotten involved nor is it that a mere four of the test team currently play for NSW. It's the sad fact that so many first class players feel they have to leave the State to either improve their games or get an opportunity to advance their careers past players who, to be brutally honest, are happy with their NSW and Big Bash contracts and won't go any further.

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