The initial draft that led to the sweeping reforms of Australian cricket’s high performance structure was an emotive document that may have been penned under the influence of alcohol, ThePublicApology understands.
ThePublicApology has obtained leaked draft copies of the Argus Review, which contains far stronger language and opinions than the final version that was released last week. The report was chaired by one of Australia’s most esteemed businessmen, Don Argus. Originally hailing from Bundaberg, Argus’ corporate history includes a stint as National Australia Bank CEO; he has held several key board positions, including Chair of BHP Billiton, as well.
Argus earned the nickname “Don’t Argue” for his forceful business approach. And this same attitude is evident in the pages of the unedited draft copies of the Argus Review where he, and other members of the review committee, make their opinions abundantly clear on the current state of the game in Australia.
Several key figures came in for heavy – and often deeply personal – criticism in the draft report. As has been reported, former chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch and national talent manager and selector Greg Chappell are first in the firing line.
Perhaps the key recommendation of the review is the appointment of a full-time national selector to head the selection panel previously chaired by part-timer Hilditch. Additionally, Chappell is to be removed from the selection panel to focus on his role as national talent manager.
But in the documents obtained exclusively by ThePublicApology, Argus’ handwritten notes give the real story behind his recommendations. South Australian lawyer Hilditch is described as “obviously severely mentally handicapped”, with Argus elaborating that he “wouldn’t even listen to him on what movie to see, let alone seek legal advice, fuck me!” In regards to Chappell, Argus wastes no words, writing that “this wanker should have been put down after the 1981 underarm incident.”
However, Cricket Australia management and executives are not the only targets of Argus’ pithy, hand-written barbs.
While the final report – originally commissioned in response to Australia’s humiliating home Ashes defeat last summer – does not mention individual players, the draft provides an insight into Argus’ personal views on existing English and Australian players. ThePublicApology can confirm that sitting Australian captain Michael Clarke was also at the receiving end of an Argus fend, along with several members of the England cricket team.
A wistful Argus laments the Australian team’s current leadership, writing that “it’s a pity Barbie and Ken [Michael Clarke and Shane Watson] have balls the size of sultanas… you can’t sing [victory song] Under the Southern Cross in the sheds after a win with a couple of Bacardi Breezers in hand.” And Argus appears to think even less of the current English cricket team, which he describes as “a bunch of fucking saffas [South Africans] and dickheads.” One scrawled note depicts fast-bowler Stuart Broad as “a soft-cock wanker who goes crying to daddy [current ICC match referee Chris Broad] every time something doesn’t go his way. Go blow-dry your hair, you muppet.”
Sadly, Argus’ hand writing noticeably deteriorates as the document continues, with the ink smeared with stains that, to this writer, appear to be that of moderately priced whiskey. It is unclear at this stage whether he had been drinking while making his annotations, but several unrelated jibes do filter into the copy – including some less than flattering references to his long-suffering wife and mother of his three children, Pat.
“Pat’s been busting my balls again,” he writes. “Better keep her well away from Aussie cricket, she’ll suck the life out of it the way she’s done with me. Jesus, I’m more drained than Dean Jones was after his epic double century in Madras in 1985.”
The Argus Report ends on that sentence, with what appear to be tear drops staining the bottom of the final page.
By Hugh Holden