Pat Howard with Australia coach Justin Langer.
Pat Howard with Australia coach Justin Langer.

More heads roll as cricket crisis deepens

PAT Howard has been sacked after the high performance system he created crumbled to ruins around him.

Australia's high performance boss was called out of a meeting to be told he would not be allowed to serve out the last year of his contract which was due to expire after next year's Ashes series.

Ben Amarfio, the man who brokered the sport's $1 billion television deal, will follow him out the door.

The departures will be formally announced by Cricket Australia on Wednesday afternoon.

Chaos reigns in Australian cricket as the fallout to the Cape Town ball tampering affair and cultural reviews continues.

The duo follow chairman David Peever, coach Darren Lehmann out the CA into exile with the three banned players Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.

Going, going.... Former CEO James Sutherland (left) and High Performance Manager Pat Howard have both exited in the bloodshed. Picture: AAP
Going, going.... Former CEO James Sutherland (left) and High Performance Manager Pat Howard have both exited in the bloodshed. Picture: AAP

A meeting of Australian cricket state executives scheduled for Wednesday afternoon was postponed to Thursday to allow states to digest the news.

Howard has been strongly criticised for the direction in which he took Australian cricket, towards the fast-tracking of young talent and away from time-honoured pathways such as the Sheffield Shield.

A former Australian rugby union player, Howard was famous for charging headlong into the All Black defence in his first Test.

Bravery was his strong suit. Subtlty was not.

Ben Amarfio (L) is the latest head to roll at Cricket Australia. Picture: Brett Costello
Ben Amarfio (L) is the latest head to roll at Cricket Australia. Picture: Brett Costello

When he arrived in the Australian system after the Argus Report in 2011, Australia needed an agent of change and former selection chairman Rod Marsh is one voice who lauded Howard for shaking up the system.

He was big on statistics, pathway systems and performance diaries and never shied away from a tough call.

He was there when Australian won the 2015 World Cup, home Ashes series, the No.1 world ranking and during bad times was admired for accepting responsibility and offering to resign.

But he shook the system up so much it fell off the rails.

New Cricket Australia Kevin Roberts is the man in the hot seat. Picture: Getty
New Cricket Australia Kevin Roberts is the man in the hot seat. Picture: Getty

In Howard's era.The Sheffield Shield lost its sting and was seen a glorified trial system rather than the flint hard competition it has always had been.

The low point was the day when Mitchell Starc was replaced by Doug Bollinger at the halfway point of a Shield game for no major reason and as a fresh Bollinger steamed through Queensland, a bewildered Starc stood on the sidelines wishing he was bowling more.

Also, Australia has simply stopped producing batsmen of decent quality.

Howard was big on having set workloads on young bowlers such as 40 balls in the nets, much to frustration of old sweats like Jason Gillespie who loathed this system and felt youngsters built up resilience by pushing themselves.

A low point of Howard’s tenure... when Doug Bollinger ran through Queensland, after replacing Mitchell Starc mid-match. Picture: Getty
A low point of Howard’s tenure... when Doug Bollinger ran through Queensland, after replacing Mitchell Starc mid-match. Picture: Getty

Brett Lee was another who felt that the resting and workload limitation was contrary to everything be believed in.

It was inevitable - even though it took an extended period of time - that Howard would be found responsible in some form for the Cape Town disaster.

Australia will say all the right things about not ruling out someone from outside cricket as their next high performance chief but it is Winx odds it will be a former cricketer.



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