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December 28, 2012

Australian cricket

Swords out for dissenting tongues

Jarrod Kimber
Brett Lee holds back the tears announcing his retirement, Sydney, July, 13, 2012
Silence: Cricket Australia hope Brett Lee and other dissenting voices keep it that way  © AFP
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If you want women, fame and money, it's probably better to be a cricketer than a cricket administrator.

If you want job security, business cards and the ability to wield power over people who are better looking and more athletic than you, cricket administration is a good gig.

You might think being one of the fastest bowlers on earth with an album, Bollywood career and breakfast cereal sponsorship is enough give you some special treatment from your employers in the twilight of your impressive Australian career.

Instead Brett Lee has been charged with unbecoming behaviour and detrimental public comments. He was speaking about the CEO of a state organisation that is haemorrhaging Test players, has been a non-entity in the ultimate domestic tournament and currently has the two last placed teams in the Big Bash.

It is just the latest in a long line of instances of Cricket Australia stamping down on players and coaches saying what they feel. Simon Katich wasn't allowed to talk about why he believed he was dropped. Darren Lehmann was charged by CA for criticising the legality of a bowling action that the ICC has deemed illegal on occasions.

And now Lee is alleged to have breached Rule 6: Unbecoming Behaviour and Rule 9: Detrimental Public Comment of the Code of Behaviour regarding comments about Cricket New South Wales and its Chief Executive Officer Dave Gilbert.

Rule 6 states: Without limiting any other rule, players and officials must not at any time engage in behaviour unbecoming to a representative player or official that could (a) bring them or the game into disrepute or (b) be harmful to the interests of cricket.

Rule 9 states: Without limiting any other rule, players and officials must not make public comment which is detrimental to the interest of the game.

CA would save their staff a lot of time if they could convince their players to cut their tongues out like Kakihara did in Ichi the Killer. The problem is, Kakihara only slices off his own tongue when he was wrong. Convincing Brett Lee he is wrong could be a tough thing to do.

Lee has said that the CEO of an underperforming state should be fired, and for Dave Gilbert that is detrimental. Of course, Dave Gilbert had fired Anthony Stuart, which I suppose for Anthony Stuart was detrimental. And it was Gilbert who had hired Stuart, which was detrimental to Cricket New South Wales. Cricket New South Wales being an embarrassing mess who struggle to win games or keep their Test players could also be seen as detrimental.

The person who hired the wrong man and then fired him midway through the season is ok but the one guy has been fired and the other has to defend his words.

Has Lee brought the game into disrepute or has he merely pointed out that Dave Gilbert had already brought CNSW into disrepute? Lee just put a name to the bad practices that have produced bad results. Gilbert is a big boy, with a decent wage, and he can find a microphone to defend himself when he needs too.

And let us be honest, being that - and this is tough for a Victorian to say - New South Wales is the most important state for finding Australian players, the way CNSW have performed over recent seasons is being directly detrimental to Australian cricket. And their CEO should be fined for that, no?

Of course not, I'm being silly. Having a poor record is not detrimental. Having someone pointing it out is.

There's something properly wrong with CNSW at the moment. It shouldn't be a crime to say so. Perhaps instead of metaphorically cutting the tongues of anyone who says anything off the CA propaganda script, more time should be spent on ensuring that cricket in New South Wales is returned to its former arrogant glory.

It's a great job being a cricket player but it's probably less enjoyable doing it constantly gagged.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

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Keywords: Administration

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by John Graham on (December 29, 2012, 2:41 GMT)

The truth often hurts, but administrations (not just in cricket) the world over have, in many cases, put themselves in a position of being able to wield a big stick while denying truth is a defence.

Both CA and the state associations need to forget about jealously guarding the high ground, and get back to a level where they can connect with both players and fans. As a born and bred blue, it pains me to see the depths to which a once-dominant cricket structure has fallen.

While it is a worthy objective to have former test and f/c players move into administration, it's a fact that some players are good cricketers but lousy administrators (or even coaches). Cricket NSW may be better served by finding a top-notch administrator who can be guided by good, retired players with their wealth of knowledge of the f/c game.

But trying to beat down critics because they voice a dissenting view is in complete contempt of those to whom the organisation owes its existenence - the players and fans.

Posted by John Scruton on (December 29, 2012, 1:59 GMT)

If every cricketer said what they felt, there's not much CA could do about it. Do a kerry Packer and set up a rival cricket association with the freedon to express fellings and comment.

Posted by Andrew on (December 28, 2012, 22:45 GMT)

Looks like Cricket Australia is trying to model themselves on the AFL dictatorship

Posted by Reddy on (December 28, 2012, 22:34 GMT)

Absolutely agree, the terminology be so vague and arbitrarily enforced as to cause quite a bit of concern when I first read it.

Posted by Ojasv on (December 28, 2012, 18:39 GMT)

Awesome article..cricket australia should stand by their players not against them. Brett lee has been one of the true ambassadors of the game. It is a good initiative taken by him for the betterment of CNSW.

Posted by Grant Dexter on (December 28, 2012, 17:19 GMT)

Am I allowed to say the CA code is a joke?

Posted by Confused.... on (December 28, 2012, 16:40 GMT)

I am no lawyer, but surely any lawyer worth his or her silk should be able to demonstrate that Lee's comments were in no way detrimental. Is Lee allowed legal representation at his hearing, or is he denied the basics of justice?

There's a long history of players being fined for this sort of thing, and they cop their fines on the chin. Given Lee's career is just about done, he could do a good deed for his fellow players and invite the NSW legal system to blow up this charade once and for all.

Posted by Peter J Bovey on (December 28, 2012, 12:47 GMT)

Hear Hear I wonder what Mark Taylor thinks?

Posted by Simoc on (December 28, 2012, 11:56 GMT)

I couldn't agree more. CA has been rather pathetic over the past two weeks given that both charged have been stating the obvious. It is stuff that makes good media and should be answered by someone with a backbone from with-in the cricket heirachy. That appears to be asking a bit much from the back slapping brigade.

Posted by loiterer on (December 28, 2012, 11:02 GMT)

Heartily agree with the above article.

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