User:Trent hop/Revival of Australia Cricket
For decade’s Cricket Austalia has set the benchmark in professionalism. This has stemmed from their coaching and administration structure and planning, however in 2010 when the Australia's fierce rivals England came and dominated Australia in Australia 3-1 in the ashes, it was realised that it was time for a change. The Argus review was conducted and produced to introduce change within Cricket Australia and team operations and some have since been implemented to instant success. The Argus review was compared to that of the English Cricket Board (ECB) that was conducted in 2007 and has resulted in them becoming the number one nation in test match cricket and similarities and differences were drawn between the two reports and a comparsion made. It has been concluded that only time will tell if the changes implemented will work, however the Argus report has helped establish weaknesses of the organisation that had for a long time been left untouched due to political conflict.
The game of cricket has for long been known as the Australian favourite pastime and by many considered Australia’s favourite sport. Since 1999 Australia has completed a dominance that has seen them win 3 of the past 4 world cups, holding the International Cricket Council (ICC) number one test ranking for a eight year period and completed the most consecutive wins in test match cricket by a nation of sixteen. After the retirement and transition of several key players and staff, changes were made and results of the team declined. In 2010 the political conflict between members of Cricket Australia were made public and pressure and external expectation was starting to grow, as Australia’s oldest rival England had a vision of winning the Ashes for the first time on foreign soil since 1986/87 England cricket board. The 3-1 series loss saw Australia fall to number 5 in the ICC test rankings and it was realised that the structure of cricket in Australia had to be reviewed. 2011 saw a critical review undertaken by several past captains and businessmen Don Argus to address issues within Cricket Australia. The review critically evaluated the team operations and cricket Australia structure and suggested short term and long term actions that would have to be taken for Australia to resurge their dominance on international cricket. Some would question why such substantial changes in a short period of time, however just recently an example of a critical evaluation that has lead to significant changes and resulted in success is that of England who’s review has lead them to becoming the number one ranked nation in test match cricket in under five years of the evaluation. As business has never played a bigger role in sport, this paper will review the Argus Review, whilst comparing it to the critical review undertaken by the England Cricket board in 2007 and whether it’s actions will resolve conflict within Cricket Australia and prove successful business decision. The review will also examine the beliefs of successful sport consultants Ric Charlesworth and John Buchanan and examine their keys values that have made their organisations successful and help Australia once again assert their dominance on world cricket and stay there.
The Argus review was released on the 19th August 2011 with the primary objective of making recommendations to the Cricket Australia board that will position the Australian cricket team to return leadership in all three formats of International cricket(test, one-day and 20-20). The review was conducted by former test captains Allan Border, Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh, as well as businessmen Malcolm Speed and Don Argus. Fact based data and analysis clearly recommended that there was a need for change. The panel narrowed this down to two specific categories that were, issues within the team specifically and the high performance and state and territory organisations. The panel recommended that immediate changes had to be made to team operations to ensure that people in key roles such as selection and coaching could assist in the team moving forward immediately. The panel focused strongly on the accountability of the performance of the Australian cricket team, with the national coach having a new role that would see them work with state organisation and Centre of Excellence(COE) to ensure the same strategies and were viewed. Also the restructuring of the national selection panel with employing a full time Chairmen of selectors, compared to the part time that was currently been employed, as well as adding the National Coach and Captain to the selection panel. The panel also suggested the appointment of a General Manager ‘Team Performance’ that sole focus was on the performance of the Australian cricket team. Once these issues had been addressed by Cricket Australia immediately and the people in key roles were appointed, then the focus could start on longer term goals and the evaluation of the team and players be undertaken. For years the team culture of the Australian team had been questioned, since the transition of key players and staff. One of these being sport consultant and former Australian coach John Buchanan explains ‘It cannot be assumed that this culture will continue to generate itself- it must be constantly revisited’(Buchanan,pg 13) and this had become a major flaw by the Australian Cricket team in the eyes of the panel, as players were unaware of their roles within the team and had no clear direction.
There were also long term issues identified by the panel that had to be addressed to ensure success for the future. There were two main areas of concern, relating to the communication of between Cricket Australia and state and territory organisations and the high performance system. In the opinion of the panel the strategy of Cricket Australia was of high quality, although it was not on the same line and reinforced as a strategy for state and territory organisations. The panel believes these problems have stemmed to create issues with the development pathway and national competitions and an important reason for the decline of the Australian teams performance. The panel also suggested an adjustment to the national competition and 2-XI competition, as well as restructuring the COE as currently the panel believed it was not being managed correctly and that high performance players had to be involved in cricket for 12 months of the year, so they are able to step up if required. Since the release of the Argus Review, Cricket Australia has implemented several of the recommendations suggested by the panel and had immediate success in their tour of Sri Lanka and only time will tell if other long term issues are fixed and see Australia reach the pinnacle of world cricket again.
Many people will ask the question whether the review will save Australian cricket, however Australians do not have to look far to see the success of another country that has used the method of a critical review of its structure of its organisation. The England Cricket Board (ECB) in 2007 with its five man panel carried out an examination into English cricket and their aims towards the future. From the recommendations of this review the five man panel decided that although results were steady, there was a lack of accountability for players, coaches, selectors and other staff involved with the team. Previously like Australia, England had 2 part time selectors and implemented one full time selector to carry more responsibility on the team whilst adding the coach and the captain to the selection panel. There was also to be comprehensive review of coaching staff and players after each tour or tournament to ensure constant feedback and improvement was occurring. Although the recommendations that were implemented were acceptable, political conflict still surrounded the team, their rock star attitudes (team culture) and their coach Peter Moore. In 2009 this reached the point that Peter Moore stepped aside and Captain Kevin Pietersen was asked to step aside to usher a new era of English cricket with the appointment of ex-Zimbabwe cricket Andy Flower. With the appointment of Flower and new captain Andrew Strauss, the comprehensive review was completed and new goals set, beating the Australia in Australia. Flower and his team implemented a winning culture based on the planning that had been five years in the making from the strength and conditioning prior and during the tour, to the number of games to be played prior to the series. In January 2011 the goals had been completed with a 3-1 victory and since then England have become the number one test nation and aim to become the powerhouse that Australia had held for many years.
When comparing the two reviews, there are many similarities. The fact for decades Australia has led world sport in terms of their business model for success and England have not only mirrored Australia’s model, but developed it to the next level is a tribute to the ECB. It is obvious that Australia is endeavouring to do the same in its review. An interesting similarity of the nations is of those that are in the panel undertaking the review. As past captains and respected businessmen were used rather than members of the organisation, which helps clearly identify issues and conflict within the organisation that may have been avoided in the case of current members conducting the reviews. It is evident that with the political conflict that have plagued both nations, that changes had to be made and both nations have given roles that give individuals chosen more authority for the decisions that are to made, however as a consequence require more responsibility for the performances of the team. Both panels have recognized the importance of the high performance system, both recommending 12 month calendars for those players, to ensure that if called upon they will be up to the demands of international cricket. Similar both panels agreed that a stronger link with state/county organisation was needed to make sure that goals are aligned with the national organisation, so that the development of the sport continued for the future. Although there are many similarities, there are also clear differences that may affect the long term success of the nations. The countries have chosen to address the grassroots level differently, as the Australian panel are aware of the Australian sporting culture placing the threat of other sports poaching potential cricketers and as a result they have recommended the nurturing of players through programs and scholarships. Where in comparison England has place little if any emphasis on the grassroot development, instead putting larger emphasis on their county and high performance teams. Even though the Australian review has only recently been completed the short-term and long term goals have been clearly identified, they have not dwelled on the results, beating particular nations or goals, but improvement as the panel beliefs that if the correct action is taken the results and the one number ICC test ranking will be Australia’s again. In contrast the ECB review was done five years ago and may have been recently updated with new aims and goals. However their review has been developed with the aim of achieving results and success (eg. beating Australia in Australia and getting the number one ICC test ranking) rather than the improvement all facets of the organisation. This therefore places greater accountability for those involved as comprehensive reviews are undertaken after every tour of tournament and consequently may place least emphasis on grassroots or county organisations.
As only time will tell if the plans and actions that have taken place by Cricket Australia will work, the advice from famous sport and business consultants Ric Charlesworth and John Buchanan has provided evidence points toward success in the long term by the plans and actions that have been taken. Ric Charlesworth elaborates in his book ‘staying at the top’, five principles of getting the top in professional sport, quality, teamwork, learning and training, resilience, depth and flexibility. Ric goes on to explain that to a business’s ability to identify the problems and provide solutions gives a way forward for the organisation to move forward and hope for better. By doing the Argus review, Cricket Australia has ensured that the problems have been correctly identified and solutions been provided by those external members involved in the review, as well as implementing one of the five principles of getting to the top, that had been missing for many years.
‘''Tactics and strategies are as important in both business as they are in sport but they can only work for you if you have skilled personnel putting them into practice’(Buchanan,pg 45).
As John Buchanan has discussed these solutions could be of the highest quality, but if Cricket Australia do not appoint the right personnel, these strategies and solutions will not result in the improvement of Cricket in Australia. That is why the Argus reviewwas completed thoroughly and clearly defined the criteria for what personnel is required, so that Cricket Australia picks the person for the role. The fact that roles are now carrying more accountability puts internal pressure on players which should only create a culture of success that will lead Australia back to the top of international cricket. In addition the Argus review has helped establish the differences between Cricket Australia and state and territory organisations and this will help strengthen the relationship s between the organisations to help cricket become Australia’s favourite sport once again.
Charlesworth.R (2002). Staying at the top. Sydney, NSW, Australia. Pan Mc Millian.
Cricket Australia (2011). Australian team performance review .pgs 1-40.
England cricket board (2007). England cricket review. Pgs1-37.