Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts resigned on Tuesday after the troubled organisation’s board demanded a leadership “reset” as anger simmers over its handling of the coronavirus crisis. Roberts’ departure makes him the third Australian sporting chief to fall on his sword during the pandemic, after Rugby Australia’s Raelene Castle and the National Rugby League’s Todd Greenberg. CA chairman Earl Eddings said T20 World Cup chief Nick Hockley would take over from Roberts on an interim basis while an international search was conducted for a permanent replacement.
“Kevin feels, and the board agrees, that now’s the right time for new leadership at Cricket Australia to reset the organisation to bounce back from COVID-19,” Eddings told reporters.
Eddings refused to detail why Roberts was heading for the exit barely halfway through his three-year contract.
However, former Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy said Roberts had lost the confidence of those involved in the game by over-reacting to the financial risks posed by the virus.
“He’s led a panic, a very premature panic, on the pandemic for no great reason and no reason he’s been able to explain transparently to the states and the players,” Healy told Melbourne’s SEN radio.
Roberts laid off most of Cricket Australia’s staff and tried to slash budgets to state bodies and players, arguing revenues would be hit hard by the virus.
However, there was widespread pushback after it became clear that most of Australia’s home season, including a lucrative Test series against India, was likely to go ahead.
The 47-year-old, a former opening batsman for New South Wales, was never a popular figure after spearheading CA’s failed move in 2017 to cut player payments.
The highlights of his short tenure were hosting the women’s T20 World Cup, won by Australia in March, and reintegrating disgraced leaders Steve Smith and David Warner into the men’s Test team after the ball-tampering scandal in 2018.
“He’s worked tirelessly to steady the ship and rebuild cricket’s standing in the community,” Eddings said.
CA said a restructuring plan for all levels of cricket in Australia would be released this week.
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