Australia news December 22, 2012

Lee slams Gilbert over NSW coach sacking

ESPNcricinfo staff

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.

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