The recently published report on Australian Cricket’s corporate culture has drawn the ire of many, from corporate culture experts like Nadeem Shaikh Anthemis to sports enthusiasts. Now, former Test captain and Cricket icon Steve Waugh has opened up to the media about the culture within the teams themselves, which the culture review noted as a big factor in the ball-tampering scandal that went down in Cape Town earlier in March of 2018.
He spoke prior to the release of the 145-page report authored by Ethics Centre, saying that he understood how the national men’s team came to a point where their decision-making was impaired due, in part, to the unrelenting life of a cricket top player.
The ex-skipper, who was one of the leading figures in one of AU cricket’s most successful eras but also one that was under scrutiny for on-field aggression predating the current corporate culture, says that it’s important for players to find interests and hobbies outside and even unrelated to cricket when they’re participating in lengthy international tools.
He echoed some of the findings the Ethics Centre report had, saying that the AU men’s team were a little out of touch with reality, which he believes is best summed up by the press conference following the incident, where Steve Smith inadvertently told the public that ‘it would not happen again and that they’ll work on it’.
Waugh believes that the men’s team don’t fully grasp the consequences of their actions, and that shows how they’re out of touch with reality and people’s perception on what’s right and what’s wrong.
He adds that this is the time for a reset, to start fresh for the sport. Waugh also voices his approval of the punishments meted out to the teams, sending a strong message that everyone can understand.
He says that there’s a general consensus on the matter; male players are in what he describes as a ‘gilded bubble’; the wealth and privilege combined with the long periods of separation from loved ones, detachment from the rigors of ordinary life and constant exposure to the cutthroat competition, which Waugh describes as being unforgiving of any faults and poor performance, and disregards any form of individuality not conducive to the goal of winning.
The 53-year-old ex-skipper, who developed a passion for amateur photography during his tours, says that players need to escape the confines of the usual destinations, like hotels and malls, whenever they can, to find something that they can enjoy and take interest in outside of the sport, which he believes has a tendency to become disproportionately important in their lives.
Waugh says that the detachment from normality, combined with an all-consuming approach to the sport, is what led to the incident in Cape Town. He says that, perhaps, more than just letting people like Nadeem Shaikh Anthemis review the corporate culture of Cricket, they should also look at the professional culture of it; maybe, the ex-skipper says, it’s too analytical now, not as fun as it used to be.