As Cricket Australia lurches from one chaotic moment to another, two former Prime Ministers in John Howard (79), and Sir John Major (75) loom as saviours.
Both have enjoyed a lifelong love affair with the grand old game. They’re known as cricket tragics – and both are readily recognised as proven leaders at the highest level.
More importantly, both are far removed from the toxic element as exposed by last weeks independent review, describing Cricket Australia as arrogant, controlling, and bullying.
Those damning descriptions automatically rule out any of the current board emerging as the chair replacement for David Peever.
My original suggestion of Mark Taylor was over-ridden by the former Australian cricket captain ruling himself out of contention as he wants to continue with his media career contract with Channel Nine, and hosting air-conditioning television commercials.
That brings up another set of circumstances where Taylor must decide what he wants most – the CA directorship, or the media – he can’t serve both.
The Taylor decision is minor compared to who sits in the big chair to regain public trust in the sport, and produce peace and harmony in the continuing war between the players and the administration.
For Howard and Sir John, they may well view the chair as a poisoned chalice, but because of their long, and successful, public service track record, the chair could well be a mighty challenge worth fighting for – and winning.
Both share amazingly similar CVs.
Both were members of Parliament for 22 years, both were Leaders of the Opposition, both were Treasurers, in Sir John’s case Chancellor of the Exchequer, and both Prime Ministers – Howard for the second longest in Australian history with 11 years 267 days to Sir Robert Menzies’ 18 years 163, Sir John for six years.
For the potential knockers who will contend neither have had board experience as both have been in charge of national finances for their countries, far bigger than Cricket Australia’s ‘petty cash’ income by comparison.
Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)
The most important assets they share are their vast experience dealing with the media and their high-quality communication-leadership skills.
Perfect for the job now required for the Cricket Australia chair.
Sir John holds the cricket advantage as a former president of Surrey County Cricket Club since elevated to Lifelong Vice President, and he became a MCC committee member in 2005, the sports guardian as owners of Lords, the home of cricket, and the laws and spirit of the game.
In 2008, Sir John wrote a best-selling book More than a Game, which won a national award as the best cricket book of the year.
Strong-willed, he resigned in 2011 in protest of the MCC’s ‘Vision for Lords’, he has never suffered fools.
But when it comes to sport in general, no politician has a wider, nor keener, knowledge than John Howard.
For 11 years I taped him as Prime Minister for 15 minutes that was aired on ABC NewsRadio for Christmas Day morning. There wasn’t a sportsman or sportswoman he didn’t have a direct knowledge of.
In the same period, I interviewed the Leader of the Opposition for 15 minutes – Kim Beasley, Simon Crean, Mark Latham, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard which were all good interviews, purely on sport, but not with the same passion as John Howard.
One thing is for sure, there’s no point in Cricket Australia looking to a head-hunting organisation for a new Cricket Australia chairman.
The last time they searched the world, the result was Kevin Roberts to replace James Sutherland as Cricket Australia CEO when Roberts was Sutherland’s deputy.
What a farce.
At least John Howard, or Sir John Major, would give the beleaguered Cricket Australia instant respectability and trust.
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