Australia high performance chief Howard sacked

Pat Howard

MELBOURNE, (Reuters) – Cricket Australia (CA) announced yesterday that high performance chief Pat Howard will leave his role next week as the fallout from a scathing cultural review into the governing body continues.

Howard, who has been in the role since 2011, had intended to stay until the Ashes tour of England next year, the governing body announced last month, a week before releasing the Longstaff review.

However, he becomes the latest executive to fall in the wake of the review, which CA commissioned after the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town in March.

“While Pat Howard has previously made clear his intentions not to renew his contract next year, it has been decided to bring forward his departure which will take effect next week after a handover,” CA said in a statement.

“Belinda Clark … has agreed to take on the role of Interim EGM, Team Performance until Pat’s permanent replacement is announced in the new year.”

The Longstaff review criticised CA for fostering a culture of “winning without counting the cost” and blamed the governing body in part for the ball-tampering crisis, which led to the suspensions of former captain Steve Smith and two other players.

Australian cricket has struggled to recover from the crisis, with its men’s teams losing a test series to Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates and being whitewashed 5-0 by England in a one-day international series.

Aaron Finch’s one-day side were thrashed by six wickets by South Africa in Perth on Sunday in the first of a three-match ODI series, which was also the first international match of the Australian summer.

Appointed in 2011, former rugby international Howard was a polarising figure in the role, with former players and pundits questioning his lack of a significant cricket background.

But CA CEO Kevin Roberts said Howard’s tenure had been a success, praising him for bringing high performance into the “21st century” and helping deliver World Cups for both the men’s and women’s national teams.

CA would look for a replacement with “deep cricket experience”, Roberts told reporters in Melbourne yesterday.

“I’ll be seeking the counsel of other cricket experts in terms of determining our future direction,” he said.

CA also said broadcasting executive Ben Amarfio had left the business on Wednesday, with Stephanie Beltrame stepping into a new role as Interim EGM Broadcasting and Commercial.

The changes come on the heels of Chairman David Peever’s decision to quit on Thursday after his position became untenable, while long-serving board director Mark Taylor, the former Australia captain, announced his resignation on Monday.

CA installed deputy chairman Earl Eddings as an interim replacement for Peever and said last week it would seek someone to take on the role permanently.

Yesterday, however, Roberts said there would be no “significant change at executive level” in coming months, barring the interim appointments being made permanent.

“From here on we’re about growing and building and moving beyond these tough decisions and tough times for some people that we really respect to take the game forward,” he said.

 

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