<
>

Pat Howard pushed out early as Cricket Australia purge continues

Pat Howard looks on during training Getty Images

Pat Howard and Ben Amarfio, two of Cricket Australia's most polarising executives, have been jointly ousted by the new chief executive Kevin Roberts amid a significant management restructuring in the wake of a scathing cultural review of the governing body.

Howard, who took his role in 2011 in the wake of the Argus review, had indicated he would not renew his contract when it expired next year, but now Roberts has hastened his departure, which will now take place next week. Amarfio was key to the new AUD1.18billion broadcast deal that was struck earlier this year, a move that took some of Australian home cricket off free-to-air-TV.

The creation of the win-at-all-costs environment that was highlighted in the Longstaff review has fallen significantly at Howard's feet.

"It's a time for reflection and learning, a time for us to deepen our relationships. It's important we show leadership, that we aren't about words but about actions," Roberts said. "Pat in particular had determined that he intended to leave the organisation and we just discussed an alternative leaving date. I think it's important we give cricket a fresh start and we start looking forward so we can heal."

It continues the high-profile exits around Australian cricket which in recent days has seen chairman David Peever resign and long-serving board director Mark Taylor stand down. James Sutherland also recently brought an end to his 17-year tenure as CEO.

The Longstaff review was highly critical of the board and team culture that had been created and Roberts had been a key executive figure during the time as COO, notably around the heated MoU debate, but he said the findings had shown enough successes in his role - pinpointing The One Team initiative to bring state and territories together, gender pay equity and community cricket - to mean he was the man to take CA forward.

"If you look at the Longstaff review it's independent and objective, they have called out at least three key positive involvements I've had and one that wasn't so positive," he said. "On balance, none of us are perfect, we are all human, and I'll do my best to keep improving."

The CA board has been having multiple phone hook-ups on a daily basis of late while working with Roberts to work out solutions to the current crisis and Roberts said it would be the last of the major changes for the time being.

Belinda Clark, the former Australia captain, will take on an interim role as executive general manager of team performance while a recruitment process has been undertaken to replace Howard.

Stephanie Beltrame, previously the general manager of media rights, will move into a new role as interim EGM Broadcasting and Commercial. She has been at CA for as long as anyone and been passed over numerous times for executive roles, most notably after her key role in securing the 2013 rights deal between Nine and Ten.

The CA digital team, previously under Amarfio, will be moved to the Events and Leagues department under Anthony Everard with the department being renamed Fan Engagement. It was Everard who tweeted the image of the Australian dressing room in Perth last week that revealed the term "elite honesty" which has since provoked much debate and no little ridicule.

"It is clear that we need to deepen our relationships with fans, players and the broader cricket community," Roberts said. "We are committed to making cricket stronger and developing closer connections with the community and greater alignment across the organisation. Everyone at CA is focused on rebuilding and moving forward after what has been a turbulent year in Australian cricket."