By Daniel Lang - Managing Director
There were tears. Oh yes, there were so many tears.
From the moment the apologies and accountability started from the players with Cam Bancroft in front of a hastily gathered press group at Perth airport to the free-flowing, emotional display from the soon-to-be deposed skipper Steve Smith and the somehow less contrite but still raw performance from David Warner, Australian cricket was cut open and at its most vulnerable in front of a seething and disappointed public.
Deep down, plenty of us probably knew things like this went on, players have tampered with cricket balls for as long as cricket has been played in the ever-continuing desperation to find an edge, but this bombshell was different. Not only did it implicate the captain and his deputy, it appeared they had pushed a younger member of the side into being the 'bag-man' for want of a better term, and that did not sit right, not in the slightest.
Six months down the line, Australian cricket is still stumbling around in something of a daze, a monumental draw against the odds and a fearsome Pakistan outfit vanquished by yet another batting collapse and a lost Test and a humbling T20 series defeat.
At home, as tickets go on sale and the promotion begins to ramp up for the traditional 'summer of cricket' we're not so sure how things are going to pan out.
The diehards will come back to the game regardless, but how will public sentiment sit when the first ball of the first Test is thundered down?
As with most outrages these days, Cricket Australia implimented a review into the state of the game following the ill-fated South African sojourn and we are now seeing the outcome of that.
The Longstaff report perhaps more than anything confirmed a fairly long-held belief that there has been a pretty average culture in and around the upper reaches of the game in Australia for some time, but the report appears to paint a picture of a culture where bad behaviour often went unpunished or even unaccounted for while there was little encouragement to speak out against what was going on behind closed doors.
In that regard, it's not hard to draw a line from how Cricket Australia manages its affairs and what happened on the field in Cape Town. A bad work culture bears decisions made in the belief that acting against the spirit or rules of the game is fine if it helps us win.
While I can't agree with the Australian Cricketer's Association that the culture of CA alone is enough justification for the bans handed down to Smith, Warner and Bancroft be completely negated, it does raise far more questions about those who sit in the highest management positions and whether or not they've been held accountable for their roles in creating the environment in which the transgression took place.
It's not so long ago the players and management were locked in a bitter dispute over money, but now, with the culture they've all clubbed together to create and foster over time, they're once again lumped firmly in the same boat.
That the average cricket fan has little to no idea who David Peever is doesn't come as much of a surprise given they follow the game and the players rather than the pencil pushers and bureaucrats behind the scenes at Cricket Australia, but for my money, he's the man most culpable for the dramatic swings in workplace culture.
Famous for his stoushes with unions and workers in previous work for big mining companies, Peever has created the ultimate 'us vs them' mentality amongst the Cricket Australia hierarchy and fostered the growth of a diminishing and arrogant environment.
Even now, having largely backed down and lost the infamous pay dispute with the players and the ACA, Peever carries himself with an air of quiet arrogance, comfortable in his belief that he can run a sport like a big business without regard for the unique circumstances that come with the gig.
A similar response to the Longstaff review from the top down seems inevitable and that's really the problem, isn't it?