Australia news January 2, 2013

Lee escapes punishment over Gilbert comments

Brett Lee walked into the Cricket New South Wales office on Wednesday charged with bringing the game into disrepute. He walked out of it a few hours later with a place at the table of a board sub-committee devised to address problems in the game in the state.

In a result he called a "great win", Lee escaped punishment over his criticism of Cricket New South Wales and its chief executive David Gilbert. Lee was reported by CNSW over the comments he made in an interview with Fairfax Media and was due to face a Cricket Australia disciplinary hearing, but on Wednesday Cricket New South Wales announced the charges had been withdrawn.

Instead, Lee was invited to contribute to a sub-committee of the state board, which will be set up immediately "to address issues as to the future direction of cricket in New South Wales". Lee, who in his original interview said he believed Gilbert should be sacked and that the head coach Anthony Stuart had been made a scapegoat for the team's struggles, said the result was a victory for common sense.

"For them to drop all charges in regards to bringing the game into disrepute, I'm really happy about," Lee said after the hearing. "On a pleasing note also, it's my chance now to meet with the sub-committee of the board, which they actually invited me to do so, to have a chat with them and improve what's happening with NSW cricket and moving forward.

"I can't say much more on what happened, but I'm really pleased with the outcome, really pleased we've come to an agreement, that all charges were dropped, and looking forward in the next seven to 12 days to meet with the sub-committee of the board to move forward and get this state back to where it used to be.

"The last 10 years it's been going through some tough times. I'm looking forward to hopefully improving that and getting NSW back to where it was. I bleed blue, and it's a huge part of me."

It is believed that the charge brought by CNSW against Lee would have had trouble sticking on a technical level because the association missed the code of conduct deadline for filing a report to Cricket Australia.

When queried about how he now viewed Gilbert and his role in NSW, Lee declined to comment. "We'll have to wait and see," he said. "I'm not in the position to comment on that. Coming here this morning I didn't know what to expect, but common sense has prevailed here, and everyone is happy with the outcome."

Cricket New South Wales said in a statement: "Both parties are very pleased to have found a way forward and at having arrived at a very positive mutual outcome. Brett Lee looks forward very much to working constructively with Cricket New South Wales into the future."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here