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Earl Eddings resignation won’t lead to meaningful change, says Ian Chappell

Former captain Ian Chappell says he’s not holding out much hope that the resignation of chairman Earl Eddings will lead to meaningful change at Cricket Australia.

Eddings quit yesterday, just a day before the annual meeting where he had been expected to seek a second term, after it became clear he had lost the support of Western Australia. Queensland and New South Wales had earlier made it clear they opposed his re-election, making his position untenable.

It’s the second time in three years Cricket Australia’s chairman has been forced to fall on his sword, after Eddings’ predecessor David Peever quit in 2018.

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Richard Freudenstein has taken the role on an interim basis, with a permanent chair expected to be appointed by the end of the year.

« The problem is it won’t make any difference who gets the job, » Chappell told Wide World of Sports.

« They’ll appoint a new person to replace him, and it won’t make a scrap of difference. History tells you that nothing will change. »

Of the nine directors on the board, only Mel Jones has played international cricket, and just one other – Greg Rowell – has played first class cricket.

National coach Justin Langer with former chairman of Cricket Australia Earl Eddings. (Getty)

« There’s never been many ex-players on the board, and as I’ve said before, those that are there are mainly window-dressing, » Chappell explained.

« By that I mean it’s window-dressing from the board’s point of view. Whenever someone says there’s not enough cricket knowledge on the board, which there never has been, they want to be be able to point to a couple of ex-players on the board.

« But they’re only there so Cricket Australia can say exactly that. »

A third board member, Lachlan Henderson, played grade cricket in Western Australia, but the remaining six members, according to their profiles on the Cricket Australia website, have little to no playing experience.

« I used to take great delight in pointing out to board members that they hadn’t played the game, and you’d always get the same response, that they’d played for Bankstown fourths, or Richmond thirds, or something like that, » Chappell noted.

Australian cricket legend Ian Chappell. (Cricket Australia via Getty Imag)

« And I’d tell them that I played golf as well, but the game I played was a lot different to that which Jack Nicklaus played.

« The same applies to cricket, you’ve got to have an understanding of the game at the highest level. Putting the board together is like picking a cricket team, you’ve got to have a combination. You don’t win cricket games with 11 batters or 11 bowlers. »

Chappell pointed out the move to appoint independent directors has gone too far, explaining that while business, marketing and finance experience is necessary, the current makeup of the board places too little emphasis on high-level cricket experience.

« About the only time the board might have had that was when Bradman had tremendous influence, and it’s a major problem, » he said.

Chappell recounted a story from his time as captain to highlight the issue, noting that a chairman with no top-flight cricket experience was the norm, rather than the exception.

Mel Jones is the only former international player on the Cricket Australia board. (Getty)

« Fred Bennett, who later went on to be chairman of the board, managed our side in England in 1975. About a week into the tour he called me up to his room and told me he wanted to send Jeff Thomson home, for some really minor incident, » Chappell recalled.

« I asked him if he had all the air tickets in the safe in the corner, because if he was sending Thommo home he may as well have sent the rest of us home as well, because he obviously wasn’t interested in winning.

« If you’re wanting to send Jeff Thomson home for something trivial, it’s clear you don’t understand the game. And yet a few years later Fred ends up as chairman of the board. »

The former Australian captain said much more needs to be done to encourage former players to get involved in the administration of the game.

David Peever resigned as Cricket Australia chairman in 2018. (AAP)

« My brother, Greg, was on the board once because someone told him that if you were a selector you can get on the board. He didn’t want to go through the system, but once he found that out he thought he’d have a crack, and he got on the board, » Chappell said.

« He resigned after a while, and I rang him up to ask if he’d ever been encouraged to become chairman. Knowing him as well as I do, I assumed, correctly, that he wasn’t just on the board to be a member, he’d have designs on being chairman.

« He told me, ‘Mate, not only was I not encouraged, I’d go almost as far as saying I was discouraged.’

« There’s got to be a change in mindset from the board, they’ve got to encourage former players to want to be members of the board, with the chance of getting the top spot if they want it.

« The biggest issue at the moment is getting the board sorted out. But do I think it will happen? No. »

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