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Peever bows to pressure, resigns as CA chairman

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Peever bows to pressure, resigns as CA chairman

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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - David Peever resigned as Cricket Australia chairman on Thursday, after three days of mounting pressure triggered by the release of a scathing review of the board's governance and culture.

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Peever, who was reelected last week for a second three-year term, would be replaced by deputy chairman Earl Eddings for the interim period until a permanent appointment could be made, CA said in a statement.

Former Rio Tinto executive Peever ultimately proved the architect of his downfall having commissioned the independent review following a ball-tampering scandal in March that plunged Australian cricket into disgrace.

The Longstaff report, submitted to CA weeks ago but not released until after Peever's second term was secured, found the board partially culpable for the events in Cape Town which led to bans for former captain Steve Smith, and batsmen David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.

The report also described CA as "arrogant" and "controlling" in its dealings with stakeholders, and of nurturing a culture of "winning without counting the costs".

Eddings thanked Peever for his service.

"He has played a pivotal role in the elevation of women’s cricket, and the significant growth in attendance and participation," he said in the statement.

“The board is keenly aware that we have a way to go to earn back the trust of the cricket community. We and the executive team are determined to make cricket stronger."

A CA spokesman said it would decide on the process and a timetable for the appointment of a new chairman early next week.

CA board director and former Australia captain Mark Taylor is heavily backed to take on the permanent role, having already been endorsed by a slew of the country's cricket luminaries.

SEASON OF CHANGE

Peever's resignation continues a tumultuous season of change in Australian cricket since the ball-tampering scandal.

Former Australia head coach Darren Lehmann stepped down to be replaced by Justin Langer in May, while long-serving CEO James Sutherland vacated his post to a deputy in Kevin Roberts.

Days before the release of the Longstaff report, high performance boss Pat Howard announced he would step down from his role in 2019, a year earlier than contracted.

Peever had also hoped to prolong his stay and tried to ride out the storm with a series of media interviews after the report's release on Monday, including one in which he described the ball-tampering incident as a "hiccup".

But having been in charge of an organisation that doled out heavy punishments to Smith, Warner and Bancroft his refusal to be held accountable for the findings in the review angered former players and pundits.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell labelled CA's leadership a "joke", while the board's former boss Malcolm Speed said the game deserved better.

Despite some on-field successes and the delivery of a record broadcasting deal earlier this year, Peever's three-year tenure was marked by an acrimonious pay dispute and a major breakdown in relations with players.

Last year, he and Roberts spearheaded a fruitless push to tear up a revenue-sharing deal that had been in place for 20 years.

The Australian Cricketers' Association on Tuesday called on CA to immediately lift the bans on Smith, Warner and Bancroft in light of the Longstaff report.

"I’d like to thank David for his service to Australian cricket," ACA president Greg Dyer said.

"Dedicating six years to the board of Cricket Australia is a demonstration of his commitment to the game."

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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