David Maddocks, the new Cricket Victoria chair, has declared that on his first impression there is a strong case for the Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings to be granted a second term when his current three-year stint expires next year, arguing that the game requires "stability in a period of great instability", underlined by uncertainty about India's port of arrival for this summer's tour.
A lawyer and governance expert, Maddocks cut his administrative teeth at the North Melbourne Cricket Club before it merged to form the Greenvale Kangaroos and as such has known Eddings, who is also a former president of North Melbourne, for decades. In a rocky year for CA, which has seen its chief executive Kevin Roberts moved on amid issues around Covid-19 and disputes with the states, the players association and most recently the free-to-air broadcaster Channel Seven, Maddocks argued that CA should consider the need for continuity when so much was changing around the game.
"You often hear it said that board members by the time their period is about to expire, they're really at their best, they've been around, they understand the issues, they understand the interrelationships and all those sorts of things," Maddocks said. "I think at the moment in terms of CV and CA, there is a strong case for stability in a period of great instability. There are a number of issues CA's dealing with, the upcoming Test series and so on. My personal view is I think Earl is doing a very good job and I think if there was potential for him to stay on, I think it's something that ought to be considered.
"Do I agree with where CA is going and its vision? Yes, I do. In terms of my relationship with Earl, I know Earl very well through cricket circles going back a long time. But I understand my duty entirely as CV chair is I've got to exercise my own judgment on issues in the best interests of cricket in Victoria. I know Earl well enough, and I think this is a good thing, to tell him if I have concerns or what CV's interests might be if there's something that's not consistent with where CA are heading."
Eddings' predecessor David Peever attempted to continue for a second term and was re-elected as such at the CA AGM in late 2018, before the release of a cultural review following the Newlands scandal saw his resignation forced when New South Wales and its chairman John Knox withdrew support a matter of days later.
Both Knox and the Queensland chairman Chris Simpson raised governance concerns at the AGMs of their respective states earlier this year, but Maddocks is of the view that structural change to the CA board - to have the direct representation of states on the board rather than state nominated independent directors - is not a path cricket should return to.
"As I understand it, the fundamental concern about this old style is that decisions could be dominated more by self-interest and perhaps controlled by the larger, more powerful states, whereas decisions need to be made by CA for the best interests of cricket throughout Australia," Maddocks said. "No problem with the dialogue, no problem with the discussion, but my personal view is the structure as it presently stands is overall a more appropriate style than that old school style
"One positive side of it would be if the states understand more what's happening, and the difficulties or issues that CA are confronting, we all might be able to contribute in a positive way to working towards solutions. The states shouldn't just sit back and wait to be told what to do, and I don't believe we are. I think under Earl there's been very good communication to the states and there's nothing to stop states from raising issues and getting more information from CA.
Nevertheless, Maddocks emphasised the need for strong communication between boards, and saw no reason why CA directors should not be welcome at every CV board meeting, citing the example of Mel Jones who was Victoria's nominee to the CA board in late 2019.
"The first delegates meeting I chaired was last Monday and Mel attended, and Earl attended," he said. "My understanding from talking to Mel is that she's keen to attend every delegates meeting that takes place in Victoria, but also to be involved in the CV board meetings as well. Earl has also said that he is available at any time. That's one thing I'll be very much taking advantage of.
"I accept there has been comment previously that there's a feeling with that board-nominated person we could have more communication from them, and we will. When they are independently appointed, they're there to make decisions in the best interest of cricket in Australia, but I don't see how that in any way precludes them from coming back and attending any meetings to keep Cricket Victoria informed and that's exactly what I'll be encouraging."
Maddocks accepted, too, that there had been a high degree of criticism about CV's cuts to community cricket earlier this year, and also acknowledged that one of his key tasks was to ensure unity across the state. "What I'd like to encourage is that we work together constructively," he said. "A good example recently was that we've got a proper process for people to raise issues and vote directors in and out. We have elections, there's always a potential for change. So, I'd really want to encourage a sense of working together and looking at solutions."