Forty staff have been made redundant by Cricket Australia as part of a A$40 million package of savings to reshape the organisation after its leadership admitted the need to reduce costs for greater sustainability in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While some departments, notably community cricket and commercial, have avoided major staff losses, high performance programs at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane and coaching staff for the national teams have been pared back significantly. The most high-profile casualty is Graeme Hick, the national team batting coach since 2016, a period in which he has hurled down countless balls at Steven Smith, among others.
On a painful day for the governing body, just 24 hours after Kevin Roberts was removed as CEO to be replaced by interim Nick Hockley, the CA chairman Earl Eddings confirmed that the major domestic competitions - Sheffield Shield, Marsh Cup, Women's National Cricket League, BBL and WBBL - will retain their current formats after they had been threatened by cuts.
However, the 2nd XI competition and pathway programmes at U-15 and U-17 level have been paused for the next financial year while there will be no Australia A tours or Cricket Australia XI fixtures.
It is not clear yet whether other executives will be jettisoned in the wake of Roberts' resignation, or if any further changes to the management team will be made by the next long-term chief executive.
"Where we were maybe three months ago we were looking at more drastic cuts," Eddings said. "But given the fact we had stood people down allowed us the flexibility to maintain more roles. Certainly in the last couple of weeks we've been able to really protect that core part of our business."
Hockley added that while some of the changes made are temporary in relation to the pandemic, others will be permanent as CA adjusts its costs so it can cope with the fluctuations of the four-year cycle of funding that can swing by as much as A$100 million depending on the schedule.
Eddings said that in future, greater cash reserves may need to be held by all sporting organisations in order to prepare for similar sorts of shocks - a pointer to how CA's cost-base had grown to the point that the 2018-19 summer, including a tour by India, raised a surplus of only A$18 million for the governing body. Similarly, Eddings defended the board's extremely conservative forecasting to the states and the Australian Cricketers Association, an issue still being haggled over.
"I think across all organisations, the risk management scene is critical and who would have predicted a global pandemic like this would hit," he said. "It will certainly make all organisations go back and look at their assumptions about risk management, including reserves policies. I think over time we're going to have to reassess that as all good organisations do.
"I think like any forecast we made three or four months ago that's subject to review and the review we've made to our cost-base has certainly changed, our forecasts back to the states and territories and the ACA are always being upgraded and…I've got no doubt we're optimistic that could be another area we work with the ACA."
In a nod to how the game will be restructured, states and territories will be given "greater autonomy to develop players", a statement essentially meaning drastic cuts to the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane and there was also reference to "prudently resourced" national men's and women's teams.
The 40 redundancies at CA take the total job losses across the game since the pandemic struck towards 200 although there are fewer losses at headquarters than had been expected earlier in the crisis due to the improving situation around Covid-19 - it is understood that more than 80 staff may have been departing as recently as two weeks ago.
"We've been through a number of challenges, but when you lose really good staff like today, it's really gut-wrenching, and through no fault of their own, there's a crisis that's hit everybody," Eddings said. "To lose 40 really good people is really soul-destroying. So this has been really tough, and saying goodbye to those people is incredibly difficult.
"By making these changes it allows us to recommit to community cricket and our high-performance programs. It's been very important for us to maintain what I call our core products of Sheffield Shield and final, WBBL, the one-day cup.
"We had to make some difficult decisions, we had to prioritise some of the programs and pause some, hopefully for no more than 12 months. I really want to apologise to those people, who may be impacted this year. We know how much it means to represent your state and country, and we'll try to do everything we can to get these programs back online in the foreseeable future."