| McGrath’s Caribbean tantrum brought a deluge of complaints and a backlash from sponsors
Sydney: Cricket Australia were deluged with 15 days of complaints from the public and there was a backlash from sponsors over fast bowler Glenn McGrath’s verbal tirade in the West Indies, the sport’s leading administrator said on Wednesday.
CA chief executive James Sutherland told a business lunch here that Cricket Australia was inundated with phone calls and emails following McGrath’s vein-popping rant at Windies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan during the Caribbean tour in May.
“I can assure you it created a stir in our office,” Sutherland told the luncheon.
A contrite McGrath later apologised to Sarwan and publicly expressed regret at his behaviour but there are still significant ramifications for the sport in Australia.
“The damage that that caused Australian cricket and arguably our brand could never be measured, but judging by the reaction we got from the media and the public there was no doubt there was a diminution as a result of that unfortunate incident,” said Sutherland.
“People were saying that the Australian team was a poor role model and don’t want (their) kids playing cricket and the captain needs to take control of the team.”
Sutherland, who at the time demanded that skipper Steve Waugh rein in his team’s on-field behaviour, said sponsors had contacted him to say their brands were suffering because of the backlash.
Sutherland said Cricket Australia learned much from the incident. While not condoning McGrath’s actions, he also believed that the Australian team had in some ways been “a victim of its own success”.
“When you are successful in this day and age people do like to pick out the bad things and look for things that aren’t that great,” he said.
Neither the umpires nor Match Referee Mike Procter took any action against McGrath, although Sutherland rebuked him.
Sutherland believed it was up to umpires to clamp down and enforce cricket’s Code of Conduct to make sure that such incidents were promptly dealt with. “What we need to see is the umpires having the strength of their convictions to act and report players when they cross that line,” he said.