So with Australian cricket fans reeling from the current ‘ball tampering’ scandal involving the Australian Cricket team lets take a look at it from a HR & Leadership lens.
I, like many others are saddened and disillusioned with the current state of our national cricket team, I have a son who idolised the current players which has brought forward a whole lot of feelings around being let down, loss of innocence in how we view our heros and confusion as to ‘why’ this has happened.
I think this resonates so deeply for many because the Australian Cricket team has always been put on a pedestal and viewed as the pinnacle of success for those few that get to represent our nation. I have heard many times that the role of the Australian Cricket Captain comes only second to our Prime Minister in the hearts and minds of Australian fans. Playing hard but fair has always been a cornerstone to the team’s identity and to find out that those chartered with representing our country and upholding those values have fallen so badly through attempting to gain unfair advantage (cheating) creates a sense of shame, loss, disillusionment and an extreme loss of trust for all players, management, coaching staff and in a bigger sense Cricket Australia as a whole.
Never has it been more important for Cricket Australia to display open and transparent leadership in dealing with what has occurred not only for fans but also for past, current and future players and the world cricket community. It will be a long road to gaining trust once again but what and how they do it now sets a tone for the future of Cricket Australia.
Firstly, looking at the unfolding of events, hindsight is always a good thing however I can’t help but be critical in how a large Organisation such as Cricket Australia is, could have made so many errors in how things were handled right from the outset. I happened to be watching the game as it unfolded, it was difficult to watch……………..
As the vision of the ball tampering occurring became irrefutable, the action of the Coach in radioing the 12 man to go on field and advise the player caught on camera added to the embarrassment. It was clear the Coach was trying to hide it when he was caught on camera, followed quickly by the 12th man realising he was also being watched. When that player then went on the field and quickly went to the player to advise of the vision it confirmed everything further, the player then obviously in a panicked state but trying to act calm then tried to hide the evidence. This further demonstrated guilt, then when approached by the umpires and the captain also raced in, showing his sunglasses case to them further added to the deceit and embarrassment.
It’s from this point that I become even more critical. The next thing to happen was that it was the ‘Tea’ break shortly after which should have allowed some initial questioning of those on the field, preferably by the Coach and the Team Manager (this may have happened as we are not aware of what went down in that break) they then should have immediately contacted the Cricket Australia CEO to advise what has occurred and immediate planning on how this would be handled should have commenced.
What we next witnessed was what can only be described as a debacle of a press conference with the player involved and the captain. The captain commenced by throwing over to the player to explain and then he advised that ‘The Leadership Team’ were aware and planned it, he was careful to note that the coaching team were unaware but unfortunately by their absence it was hard to believe.
My criticism is this – The press conference should have been attended by the Captain, Coach and Team Manager and not the player who tampered with the ball. The Captain should have been fully briefed on how to declare what had occurred and the Coach and Team Manager should have reiterated that this was not acceptable and that a full investigation was immediately being implemented, they should have also advised that contact had been made with the Cricket Australia CEO and they were fully involved in and were directing the investigation. The Team Manager should have advised that no details would be discussed until a full investigation and all information had been gathered. (Due diligence needed to occur to ensure any and all involved (and those within the team reportedly not involved) were interviewed. It needed to commence immediately to ensure no collusion occurred between team members. When investigating, all parties need to be individually interviewed in order to gain the most accurate version of what occurred. At that point a determination can be made based on all of the gathered evidence of what a ‘reasonable person’ would believe to be the most accurate recounting of the events both leading up to and at the point of the tampering occurring. Cricket Australia then needed to review all of the information and determine what penalties would be implemented. Meetings with those individuals needed to occur to advise of outcomes and at that point a press conference called. The press conference should have been attended by the CEO, Team Manager and Coach unless either of those were found to be involved.
Sadly, what has occurred has generated distrust of not only all of the players but also the coaching staff and management of Cricket Australia. I can confidently say that the majority of the cricketing public do not believe that only 3 players were involved and many believe the coaching staff were also involved. Many past Australian players have voiced these thoughts also which further feeds into ‘Cricket Australia’ being untrustworthy and not believing anything they are saying.
Whilst thinking of anything like this occurring in a business is distasteful, not having plans, processes and procedures that are clear to deal with these issues can not only hurt those involved but also the business as a whole. It can end up being detrimental to the business around reputation which can take a long time (and in some cases years) to recover from. The importance of strong leadership and leading from the front is imperative in these situations which unfortunately seems to have failed on all levels for Cricket Australia. We have heard and seen a fractured leadership with the Board seeming to meet without showing the CEO was involved, the Team Manager seemingly not managing anything, the Coach not leading and standing with his team taking the reigns and demonstrating leadership (should be with the team in good and bad) and the Captain essentially throwing the player to ‘the wolves’ (media) unprepared and essentially alone.
Cricket Australia has a long way to go to rebuild trust of the Australian and wider cricketing community. Don’t be the next Cricket Australia, look critically at your business and ask yourself, what would we do? Do we have processes and procedures in place? Do we know what we would need to do to Lead in difficult times?