‘Dying’ Australian cricket in big rebuilding job after ‘sexting’ scandal

Australian team has not won a Test series since India last September and sport executives say they should look to their fast bowler to lead the way

‘Dying’ Australian cricket in big rebuilding job after ‘sexting’ scandal

The Australian cricket team is facing a “crisis” requiring a new generation of leaders and a scapegoat could be fast bowler Pat Cummins, according to sports executives, amid another blow to the sport’s public image.

Cricket Australia issued a statement on Thursday in response to a newspaper report that one of its players was involved in a “sexting” scandal that was believed to involve a female journalist.

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The female journalist denies sending the texts. CA will not comment on the ongoing police investigation and does not comment on the conduct of its players.

“The Australian cricket team has not won a Test series since India last September and it is a challenge for any leadership group to inspire confidence when the team is not performing,” Andrew Demetriou, the chairman of Cricket Australia, said in a statement.

“While it’s important not to rush judgments, we are very clear in our need to rebuild public confidence and trust. All stakeholders have a stake in this and we are committed to restoring the team’s performance through a leadership and culture overhaul.”

The scandal comes amid another sombre period for the cricket team, after the suspension of Steve Smith and David Warner over ball-tampering.

At the peak of its international powers in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Australian cricket won more Tests than any other team and four World Cups.

But it has failed to hold the audience for a long time, amid a series of scandals over the past two decades. Cricket Australia is not in crisis as far as numbers are concerned, however. It won 14 series in 2017-18, including a 5-0 whitewash of India in the four-Test series that will be the backdrop for this week’s opening Test.

Cricket is a big earner for Australian media companies but has been the butt of comedians. Local headlines have been dominated by the team’s heavy-handed approach to its sponsorship deals. The issue is still hotly debated by people who want Australia to retain its star players and push for a similar player contract system to that in England.

Chairman James Sutherland admitted the “reigniting of trust” required to restore the team’s standing was now his top priority.

While eager to distance the Australian cricket team from the accusations, the Australian business community was lukewarm about Cummins, the headline-grabbing quick whose tests match and squad spot this summer have been queried.

“Now is the time for Pat Cummins to step forward and lead,” said Brenton Rickard, the chief executive of telecoms company Telstra, which sponsors the Australian cricket team and event.

Gina Rinehart, one of Australia’s richest people, said on Twitter that corruption in cricket was “an injury the country suffers from”. She said she was worried about the turmoil.

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