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Nick Hockley interim Cricket Australia chief executive as Kevin Roberts departs

Hockley was chief executive of the Australia T20 World Cup organising committee

Daniel Brettig
Daniel Brettig
Kevin Roberts' ignominious exit from Cricket Australia will see the T20 World Cup local organising chief, Nick Hockley, installed as acting chief executive while the governing body conducts a global search for the next long-term leader.
Hockley, who has impressed many with his handling of the women's event capped by a crowd of more than 86,000 people at the MCG for Australia's win over India in the March 8 final, was first involved in cricket as part of the organising team for the ODI World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, before holding a senior commercial role with CA from 2015 to 2017.
Support for Roberts at CA board level had been conditional right from the start of his tenure, given that he was signed to a three-year contract with the option of two more in October 2018, meaning he had the chance to prove himself before major negotiations for broadcast rights and the MoU with the players fell due. Initially he seemed to have worked effectively if slowly through a period that saw the men's team rehabilitated after the Newlands scandal and the women's team reach new heights in winning dual Twenty20 World Cups.
However, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and CA's chosen response - staff stand downs on 80% pay cuts and requests for funding cuts across the country - re-opened old questions about Robert's communication style and level of trust with players, state associations and the governing body's own staff.
This saga confirmed whatever reservations the board still had about his ability to be CA's long-term chief, turning it into a matter of when to part ways. Deteriorating talks with players and states, plus a rapidly improving Covid-19 outlook, brought the matter to head over the weekend, leaving Roberts to discuss his future with the board on Monday and eventually tender his resignation.
Earl Eddings, the CA chairman, spoke to staff before addressing the media on Tuesday with the board due to confirm details of a restructure that will include redundancies later in the week. "Kevin and the board and I have been working hand-in-glove over the last three to four months around this. We thought it's time now and Kevin agreed with the board that it's time for a new leadership and he tendered his resignation accordingly for the good of the game," Eddings said.
"Ultimately the board takes all responsibilities. Being the chair, I'm the one ultimately responsible for the organisation. Hence why we've made these changes today and what we are doing tomorrow. We have responded appropriately. We are living in very unprecedented times. Our response has been in line with all other sporting organisations in the past three months. It would be naïve to think that Australian cricket wouldn't be affected like all our other sporting codes and organisations around the world.
"At the time, we made prudent decisions about the welfare of Australian cricket and, yes, that means we had to make some hard decisions and we've done that. And I don't move away from that because it's been necessary to protect us through this crisis. However, if things emerge and change, we adapt our plans, but ultimately that's my responsibility and the board's responsibility."
While CA had been working on plans based on projections for the loss of up to 50% of revenue next summer, Eddings confirmed that the board was now reassessing the situation as it improved with each day, particularly in terms of Australia. However, he underlined CA's view that the T20 World Cup, due to be played in October and November, was still too complex an undertaking.
"I sit on the ICC and we're having meetings as we speak. It's a bit of a moving feast at the moment," he said. "I'd say it's unlikely, while it hasn't been formally called off this year or postponed, trying to get 16 countries into Australia in the current world where most countries are still going through Covid-19 spiking, I think it's unrealistic or would be very, very difficult. We've put forward a number of different options to the ICC we're working through at the moment."
Prior to the 2015 World Cup, Hockley had worked on the London Olympics, so brings a deep wealth of event management experience. Hockley has also worked closely with the former CA chief executive, James Sutherland, who remained a director on the T20 World Cup board following his departure from the CA CEO's chair after nearly 18 years at the helm.
"I'd say it's still sinking in, it's very fresh this news over the last 24 hours, so really my focus and priority is the immediate term and it's really just work towards getting the best possible summer away," Hockley said. "There's a huge amount of work going on around [T20 World Cup] contingency planning. I think there's meetings coming up next month at ICC level where some decisions will be made and we've got a fantastic local organising committee who are busy preparing for every eventuality and the decision that will come forth."
The departure of Roberts ends an eventful period of a little more than 18 months in the role, culminating in an ugly and ongoing dispute between CA, its state associations and the Australian Cricketers Association over disputed cost-cutting amid the financial shocks brought on by Covid-19.
"It's been a privilege to lead and serve the sport I love as CEO of Cricket Australia," Roberts said. "Our team of staff and players are outstanding people who contribute so much to the game and I'm proud of what we've achieved together. I'd like to thank the army of volunteers in communities across the country who are the lifeblood of our sport, enabling kids to experience the game and to dream about emulating their heroes in our national teams. As a lifelong and passionate member of the cricket community, I look forward to seeing the game thrive into the future."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig