Australian cricket's custodians have voted themselves out of their own jobs, formally approving the introduction of a smaller, nine-person Cricket Australia board, with three independent directors to be appointed at the annual general meeting in October.
At an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) held in Melbourne, the representatives of the six states voted to disband the old CA structure in favour of a more streamlined board, ultimately to be represented by nine independent directors.
The new structure means that each state will effectively have one vote at the CA board table, overturning more than a century in which the three "foundation" states, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, held a voting advantage over the rest.
As a bridging measure, the board approved six current directors to serve an initial term of three years, including the CA chairman Wally Edwards (Western Australia), John Bannon (South Australia), Earl Eddings (Victoria), Dr Harrry Harinath (NSW), Michael Kasprowicz (nominated by Queensland though not a member of its board) and Tony Harrison (Tasmania).
One significant absentee from the list was the former Australian captain Mark Taylor, long held in high regard as a board member, thinker and statesman. However there is a strong chance that Taylor will be one of the three independent candidates recommended for appointment in October, provided he resigns his position on the Cricket NSW board in the interim.
Edwards, a vocal advocate for the changes first mooted by the Crawford and Carter review of CA governance, said the events of the EGM were the most significant changes since CA's foundation in 1905.
"The big issue and the big sore thumb that was always there, particularly for states like WA and Queensland and Tasmania, were that we weren't equal, we were felt to be second class citizens," Edwards said.
"There's been a lot of issues that come and go, people in certain positions unsure about what that will mean or this will mean and there's been an enormous amount of consultation and discussion and debate, and a lot of compromise. We've moved an enormous amount of distance.
"There's certainly a desire that the board represent the geographical areas of Australia, that it doesn't become nine people from one area or one state. That's always been a balancing act, but basically we're moving to a position where we will have nine directors of CA that won't be on state boards, and that's where we want to be."
SA had been the sole state to oppose the reforms at the board's previous meeting, declaring its opposition to measures to prevent state directors from taking a place on the CA board. The SACA president Ian McLachlan said he agreed with the changes, but said some matters remained open for discussion.
"The time has come to cut the size of the CA Board and to bring in outside directors," McLachlan said. "The tenure of debate has been sophisticated and extremely positive. There are still some matters requiring further detail and these will be handled by the states during the next few weeks."
Edwards said the board had moved a long way from that state-based rivalries and intrigues he recalled from when he joined the board. "When you sat at the table, you sat in state teams if you want to call it that, WA were in a certain position and we sat there at every board meeting, we didn't move," Edwards said.
"Typically most issues were resolved on the basis of what was good for your state. That was how it was, 'if we can get another buck and beat the Vics at this' then that was a victory. It was very parochial, you were a delegate, and if you didn't know that when you went back to your state board and reported in, if something happened that they didn't like, you'd get told that was pretty poor.
"Over the last 10 years, from Denis Rogers' chairmanship on, that did break down. It took a while but it broke down quite significantly, and I'd say over the past six years the board has been apolitical really, it hasn't been as state focused, even though all board members apart from Queensland rely on the appointment from their state."
The former BHP chairman Don Argus, who helmed the 2011 review of the Australian team's performance that led to a raft of structural changes around the national side, has been appointed alongside his fellow business leader Tony Hodgson on the committee to select the three independent directors to be found before October.
Other members of that committee are Edwards, the Cricket Victoria chairman Geoff Tamblyn, and the SACA president McLachlan. Edwards said the nomination of a female representative to the board was now a strong possibility. He also indicated that one of the Crawford and Carter report's other recommendations, for the distribution of revenue to be decided by the board rather than divided piecemeal between the states, was close to fruition.
"We're having a meeting of state chairmen and CEOs on September 6 to workshop hopefully the final details of that," he said. "We'll start looking at the necessary constitutional changes that will follow and my aim is they will be put to the AGM on October 25."