Outgoing Cricket Australia (CA) chairman
Creagh O’Connor has cautioned his successors about rifts between
players and administrators, like last summer’s “Monkeygate” affair
involving Andrew Symonds.

That episode, which resulted in CA reaching a compromise with the
Indian board (BCCI) to downgrade a charge of racial vilification
against Harbhajan Singh after the Indians threatened to quit the
tour, damaged relations between CA and the players.

Meanwhile, the attraction of the IPL and ICL Twenty20
competitions are testing the resolve of players to stick to
traditional career paths – giving O’Connor good reason to appeal to
CA to keep its players close.

O’Connor officially exited as chairman after a period of three
years at CA’s annual general meeting in Melbourne yesterday.

He will be replaced by fellow South Australian Jack Clark.

“Our players make a significant contribution to the health of
the game and it is important that we, as administrators, keep them
close as we make the difficult decisions needed to manage cricket in
its fast changing and often complex times,” O’Connor said.

“The last Australian summer was the most difficult time in my
long career in cricket and the male players ended the year feeling
at a distance from the managers of the Australian game.

“I am pleased we have since come together to review how we each
managed the summer’s difficult issues and have agreed where we might
mutually have done better and how we might mutually do better in

In a global climate made complex by the power of the BCCI and the
explosion of the Twenty20 format, O’Connor said more attention had
had to be paid to the grassroots of Australian cricket to ensure
players of quality were retained.

“The big question for us nationally, and within the states and
territories, continues to be about striking the right balance
between what we invest in the development of the game at a community
level and what we invest in our elite success,” O’Connor said.

Success, he said, not only promoted national pride, but also was
the best advertisement for encouraging youngsters to develop a
passion for the game.

“I am not convinced we have got the balance right, and that
balance varies across Australia,” he said.

“Investment in development of the game seems to be the first
place for cuts whenever the belt is tightened, but we need to
recognise that our future is totally dependent on the next
generation of Australians being as passionate about cricket as are

“And that will not happen without active investment in the
recruitment of the next generation of players, a few of whom will
become stars but most of whom will become life-long fans.”