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BBL chief McKenna's dual roles under spotlight

Daniel Brettig

February 22, 2013

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A miked-up Shane Warne remonstrates with Marlon Samuels, Melbourne Stars v Melbourne Renegades, Big Bash League, MCG, January 6, 2013
Standards of player behaviour on the field nose-dived during the BBL © Getty Images
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Mike McKenna's contentious dual role as Cricket Australia's chief of commercial operations and custodian of its disciplinary codes is expected to be placed under the spotlight as part of the former AFL executive Adrian Anderson's review of CA integrity.

While McKenna's job as CA's commercial head and executive in charge of the Big Bash League is not in question, ESPNcricinfo understands there have been mounting concerns within the governing body about the management of disciplinary matters.

McKenna has overseen this area since the departure of the former head of cricket, Michael Brown, in 2011, and the move of the former general manager of cricket operations, Geoff Allardice, to the ICC in 2012.

Anderson is expected to submit his report into CA's integrity management by the middle of 2013, with his review to include, according to a CA statement, "anti-doping policies and disciplinary processes, domestic cricket anti-corruption and CA's involvement in the ICC's global anti-corruption program". There is the strong possibility McKenna's role will be re-shaped, with responsibility for disciplinary process moved elsewhere within the organisation to guard against conflict, and perceptions of conflict.

Standards of on-field behaviour during this summer's BBL degenerated, culminating in the ugly bust-up between Shane Warne and Marlon Samuels at the MCG. As BBL chief and also disciplinary czar, McKenna was in the invidious position of trying to increase the commercial value of the tournament while also having oversight for the code of conduct hearings that had Warne let off with a one game ban and $5000 fine while Marlon Samuels subsequently escaped with a mere reprimand.

Other incidents prior to the Warne/Samuels affair were not pursued at all, and while some elements of CA were content to have the BBL publicised by any means, others were unnerved by the appearance of poor player behaviour being effectively condoned. This raised alarms given the tournament's aggressive marketing towards families and children: CA's spirit of cricket initiatives were made to appear empty commitments to the conduct of the game.

Since the end of the BBL, closer attention has been paid to player behaviour in domestic matches, as demonstrated by CA's insistence that Ricky Ponting front a hearing and be fined for throwing his bat when dismissed in a limited overs match at the WACA ground on Tuesday. It is expected that all contracted players will be briefed again about their behavioural responsibilities before next summer.

"Public faith in the integrity of sports results they see on the playing field is absolutely critical and we want everything we do pressure-tested by an independent specialist expert to be sure we are as good as we can be," CA chief executive James Sutherland said in announcing the review. "While the timing is coincidental, and while the ACC report had no evidence of cricket concerns, its publication is a timely reminder that no modern elite sport is immune from risk."

Anderson was the AFL's general manager of operations from 2003 to 2012, responsible for a raft of changes to the governance of the game, its rules and disciplinary procedures. He was instrumental in the revamp of the league tribunal, and in setting up the competition integrity unit that investigated allegations the Melbourne Football Club "tanked" games in 2007.

The exit of Anderson from the AFL followed indications that the league's chief executive Andrew Demetriou had passed him over in order to anoint the former head of commercial operations, Gillon McLachlan, as his future successor.

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

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Posted by zenboomerang on (February 25, 2013, 1:53 GMT)

In this day & age we don't expect to have an official who is (in theory) senior management, policeman, judge & jury - surely a closed loop... The "old boys school" in CA still seems to find many homes in its management... There are many AFL people - coaches, trainers, management - that could greatly enhance Oz cricket in both its running, player management, public openess & appeal...

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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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