Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo
Earl Eddings has resigned as Cricket Australia chairman and stepped down from the board just 24 hours out from Thursday's Annual General Meeting after losing the support of Western Australia which meant he would not have been re-elected for a controversial second term.
Eddings had been a director for 13 years and chairman since 2018 following the resignation of the previous chairman David Peever in the wake of the cultural reviews into Cricket Australia following the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
Current director Richard Freudenstein has been elected as the interim chairman and will oversee Thursday's AGM and will serve for a short period until a new chairman is elected.
Eddings was facing intense scrutiny in recent weeks with states divided over his desire to serve a second term as chairman with New South Wales and Queensland having already opposed him. The latter part of his tenure had been dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic which had initially led to a push for huge revenue cuts to states of up to 50% that was eventually negotiated down to 12.5%, followed by the public spat with broadcaster Channel Seven, while there was also the postponement of the tour of South Africa earlier this year.
Despite the opposition from two states, CA had released a statement on September 16 saying, "the Board of Cricket Australia today announces its unanimous endorsement of Earl Eddings for a second and final term as Chairman ahead of next month's Annual General Meeting, where members will be asked to vote on his re-election as an independent director."
He had agreed to appoint a deputy chair and begin the process of handing over the role before standing aside during his second term but that had not been enough to win over his detractors. Western Australia withdrawing their support was the final nail for Eddings. WA Cricket chairman Terry Waldron confirmed that the WA board had withdrawn their support in a meeting on Tuesday night with the perilous nature of the upcoming Perth Ashes Test match a major part of their reasoning.
"The Board felt that over recent years they have not received the support they would have expected from Cricket Australia and the current uncertainty around the fifth Ashes Test was a contributing factor," Waldron said. "The Board felt there needed to be a change in the Governance at Cricket Australia.
"WA Cricket has always been supportive of Cricket Australia and we recognised that we need to work together to ensure that cricket remains one of the country's biggest sports, however the Board believe that change was necessary."
That left Eddings with no option but to resign as he would not have the minimum four votes from six states to remain.
"It is my sincere hope that following my resignation the State and Territory associations can unite and work together in the best interests of cricket, allowing the focus to return to the sport ahead of the 2021-22 season," Eddings said in a statement.
"It has been an honour and a privilege to be able to serve the sport I love as a Cricket Australia director. In that time, and particularly during my time as Chair, we have navigated some of the sport's greatest challenges, including rebuilding the trust and reputation of Australian cricket after the Newlands incident and, more recently, the enormous impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on domestic and international cricket."
"I am particularly proud of our collective efforts to overcome the challenges of Covid-19 to stage a hugely successful Indian tour last summer and ensure the Ashes can go ahead this summer. It has been terrific to be involved in the growth of the women's game in recent years, from the success of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup and Women's Big Bash League to the continued increase in girls taking up our sport. I have also been pleased to strengthen relations with the players through the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA).
"I would like to extend my thanks to all of those who have worked hard to support the sport, and me personally, during my term as Chair - my fellow directors and the entire Cricket Australia team, the players and coaching staff, the Australian Cricketers' Association, the State and Territory cricket associations, our commercial and international partners and every club member and volunteer who keeps the sport thriving in the community."
Eddings has never had the unanimous support of the Australian cricket community during his time as chairman. He was forced to step down as Victoria's CA board nominee in 2019 after losing the support of his home state but was elected to remain on the CA board and as chairman as an independent director.
Eddings played a key role in the appointment of Nick Hockley as Cricket Australia's CEO following the resignation of Kevin Roberts in 2020. Hockley was appointed as interim CEO in June of 2020 but was only formally endorsed as Roberts' successor in May of 2021.
More recently, Eddings and Hockley were forced to be mediators when concerns were raised among senior men's players regarding Justin Langer's position as coach.
CA's board now faces the task of appointing a new chairman and a deputy chairman over the next 12 months to ensure a smoother transition process in board governance following the last two chairman's being forced to resign without a proper succession plan in place. Thursday's AGM will see the States given the opportunity to vote on the re-election of two directors, WA's Lachlan Henderson and Queensland's Greg Rowell, who was appointed to the board back in June.