'Rudderless' CA resets after chair resigns

Earl Eddings has resigned as Cricket Australia chairman on the eve of the AGM.
Earl Eddings has resigned as Cricket Australia chairman on the eve of the AGM.

The fate of the fifth men's Ashes Test headlines the issues a "rudderless" Cricket Australia must resolve as interim chairman Richard Freudenstein attempts to restore calm after Earl Eddings' resignation.

Eddings bowed to pressure from multiple states on Wednesday morning, stepping down on the eve of what shaped up to be an acrimonious annual general meeting.

Former Foxtel chief executive Freudenstein will oversee Thursday's AGM.

The governing body hopes to appoint a permanent chair by the end of this year, vowing to undertake a "rigorous process" involving input from state associations after yet another destabilising episode.

CA's board released a statement last month, unanimously endorsing Eddings to serve another term as chair despite Cricket NSW and Queensland Cricket both pushing for his 13-year stint as director to end.

Agitation for change grew among disgruntled directors on CA and state boards, especially about Eddings' purported succession plan.

Cricket Western Australia's board met on Tuesday night, with its withdrawn support believed to be the metaphoric tap on Eddings' shoulder that prompted the Victorian to confirm he will not stand for re-election as a director.

Eddings replaced David Peever as CA chairman in 2018, when his predecessor also resigned after a phone call from Cricket NSW equivalent John Knox.

The interim promotion quickly became permanent despite Cricket Victoria raising public objections, with off-field infighting and instability becoming all too common as Australia rebuilt its on-field image from sandpaper-soiled wreckage.

Nick Hockley waited almost a year before the board dropped 'interim' from his job title, having installed the Oxford-educated administrator as caretaker chief executive after turfing Kevin Roberts in mid-2020.

"It's almost like the circus continues," former captain Adam Gilchrist said on SEN.

"For the last two or three years perhaps at Cricket Australia ... it really feels like it's been rudderless.

"Cricket boards around the world must be thinking 'what is going on over there?'.

"It is a bit laughable ... it's just a real shame this is taking so much focus of the board (at the start of the season)."

Hockley is desperately trying to ensure the Ashes end at Optus Stadium as planned, ensuring international cricket returns to Perth for the first time since COVID-19 erupted.

A call must also be made on Australia's in-doubt tour of Pakistan in February, while national men's coach Justin Langer's contract and the players' pay agreement both expire in mid-2022.

It would be simple to suggest WA's angst related to one topic but the uncertainty, resulting from their own state's border rules and England's refusal to accept strict restrictions, didn't help.

"It is my sincere hope that following my resignation the state and territory associations can unite and work together in the best interests of cricket, allowing the focus to return to the sport," Eddings said in a statement.

"It has been an honour and a privilege to be able to serve the sport I love."

It was last year's belt-tightening response to COVID-19 that raised the loudest questions about Eddings' leadership from NSW and Queensland, who both successfully pushed back against significant cuts to funding.

Australian Associated Press