In the end it was only a matter of minutes. At 10.25am Cricket Australia's chairman David Peever was re-elected to become only the second man to serve two consecutive terms since the Second World War. At 12pm CA's state association owners were finally allowed to view the independent cultural reviews of the governing body and the men's national team that succumbed to the Newlands ball tampering scandal under his watch.
The state delegates thus voted for Peever's return as chairman without being privy to the findings of the reviews conducted by the Ethics Centre's Simon Longstaff and the former Test batsman Rick McCosker, after all other levels of CA, from the players to the coaching staff and the executive led by the outgoing chief executive James Sutherland, had been accountable for events in South Africa.
Having been returned as chairman and revealed the Victorian director Earl Eddings as his deputy and replacement in three years' time, Peever stated that the reviews had been held back from being shown to any of CA's owners or stakeholders until after the AGM because they had up to this point not been finished. Draft versions of the Longstaff review in particular are believed to have sat with the board for the past seven weeks, and the final version landed with directors on Tuesday.
But the states and the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) sat through a day of meetings on Wednesday without being handed their text, and could not form opinions until after Peever had been re-elected. "They weren't finalised until very recently and we had always said that they would be released before the start of the international men's summer, which is what's happening, so they're being released on Monday," Peever said when asked why the reviews were not being revealed until immediately after the AGM.
"I'd also like to make the point that the review has been undertaken voluntarily and it is completely independent. So again we're going to use that as a platform, a basis to make cricket even stronger. We are briefing key constituents ahead of Monday, so we will be having meetings today with the state and territory chairmen and CEOs, they're are owners so we need to speak to them first. We will be then sequentially briefing other key constituents over coming days ahead of Monday, including the ACA.
"At our board meeting tomorrow we will be going through the recommendations with a view to trying to be clear on our response to as many of those recommendations as we can ahead of Monday, but I can't guarantee that we'll be able to be clear on all of them."
The ACA president Greg Dyer questioned how the re-election of the chairman could take place before the reviews had been seen by the states and other stakeholders. Kevin Roberts' appointment as CEO had at least not taken place until the board had been aware of what the reviews contained.
"The ACA's submission to the Longstaff Review raised concerns with the lack of transparency and accountability at the leadership level at CA," Dyer said. "The ACA believes that the CA board has missed an opportunity to have the results of this review understood and contested, prior to this meeting.
"All stakeholders in cricket need to be fully informed and engaged in the reforms recommended by Dr Longstaff, and in improved long-term governance of the game; and this AGM was a good forum in which to do that. As such, the ACA awaits the release of the Longstaff report with a sense of expectation and cautious optimism."
Since Newlands, CA has ushered in a new national team captain in Tim Paine, a new coach in Justin Langer, a new chief executive, and on Wednesday digested the news that the team performance manager Pat Howard would also be departing. Peever said he served at the privilege of the rest of the board as chairman, and the state associations as a director, and felt it necessary to stay on to manage changes to the game both at home and abroad.
"I was asked to continue in the context of the various change that was going on, not only in Australia but internationally, because I do believe internationally cricket is in one of the periods of the most profound change in its history," Peever said.
"Notwithstanding the fact its popularity is also at an all-time high. But there are risks to cricket as we know it, especially the primacy of international cricket needs to continue to be reinforced, so with all of that going on, I felt continuity was important. So I agreed with the request to continue.
"An event like South Africa undoubtedly damages faith in cricket and we're absolutely conscious of that, and we're absolutely conscious that we need to work much harder with grass roots, and much harder with our fans. Our strategy tilts strongly back to those things. I'm sure we're already seeing that in the behaviour and approach of the men's team, and in addition to that we at CA accept our share of responsibility for events in South Africa, and that's why we commissioned voluntarily the review."
One of the key questions raised in the wake of Newlands was the fact that CA's most recent strategy for Australian cricket, helmed largely by Roberts and signed off by the board chaired by Peever, had omitted any significant mention of the spirit of cricket for the first time since the board had begun commissioning strategy documents in the late 1990s. Peever conceded that while winning was central to Australian cricket culture, recognition of how to play the game needed to return to greater prominence in CA's strategy.
"Australian cricket teams have a proud history of winning, since the first Ashes series was played 140 years ago. That's not going to change, the players want to win, we want them to win and the public wants them to win," he said. "That said we know that can't happen all the time. It's also true that we and they and the public want to be able to follow teams they can be proud of in every respect. I know we feel that, I know the players feel that. I'm not sure whether or not the prominence is strong enough, I think some of the language probably requires a bit of attention would be my response."