DHAKA: Bangladesh’s inaugural Test victory over Australia in Dhaka last year was belittled by Cricket Australia’s team performance chief Pat Howard as being achieved by players who were not up to Sheffield Shield standard, a new book has revealed.
In Australia’s first Test after the fractious 2017 pay dispute, an underprepared team lost narrowly to Bangladesh on a sharply turning pitch and were immediately leapt upon by sections of the media as overpaid prima donnas. In Gideon Haigh’s Crossing The Line, an account of the build-up to this year’s ball-tampering scandal, Howard is shown to have harangued senior figures across Australian cricket in an emailed reaction to the defeat.
“I am sitting in a cafe in Dhaka hotel at the conclusion of the first Test loss ever to Bangladesh. I am personally embarrassed and take accountability and happy to accept any criticism that comes our way,” Howard wrote. “For some of you sitting here in Dhaka you are fully aware of how poor a result this is and you have a material opportunity to address in the next few days.
“Rightly the system is often judged on the outcomes of the national team. As you can imagine there are many questions being asked of us, and I think they are fair. I am reasonably confident that many of the players that have just beaten us would not get a run in any of the state teams.
“To the CA Team Performance – When you go home at the end of the day, does what you do actually make a difference? CA spends over $100m on players’ wages and teams, all in the effort of producing great national teams. We have failed, you have failed and I have failed and it is not good enough.”
Howard’s unflattering depiction of the Bangladesh side Australia had just lost to was followed by an improved performance and a victory by the tourists in the second Test, but also by the cancellation of Bangladesh’s scheduled visit to Australia for Tests this year. It is part of a wider picture painted by Haigh of arrogance and disconnection in Australian cricket, a sobering tale for the new chief executive, Kevin Roberts.
“Some who’ve raised questions these last few years have been penalised for their trouble. Asked to sum up the culture of Australian cricket, one of my interviewees put it more succinctly than I ever could: ‘Bullies and sycophants.’ Said another, by way of contrast: ‘[Australian rules] Football gives you one in the belly. Cricket gives you one in the back. It is full of good haters.’ Quoting them directly would hardly improve their employment prospects. But these voices do need a hearing.”