Cricket Australia high performance chief Drew Ginn on indefinite leave

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The former Olympic rower, who was appointed in 2019, suffered a health scare late last year

Drew Ginn’s future as Cricket Australia’s high performance boss is uncertain after he took personal leave from the role in late February with no set return date.

CA’s acting chief executive Nick Hockley authored a reshuffle of Ginn’s direct reports, including the shift of the sports science division headed by Alex Kountouris and the national talent and pathways division run by Graham Manou to the desk of the national teams chief Ben Oliver. Peter Roach, the head of cricket operations, now reports directly to the chief executive.

There is no suggestion that Ginn is set to quit the job. Nevertheless it has been a difficult year for Ginn who, in addition to the myriad problems created by the need for CA to find a way through restrictions put in place to deal with Covid-19, had to cope with the death of his father in March 2020.

Ginn, 46, also suffered what he described as a “heart and kidney scare” after a long-haul cycle ride from Melbourne to Warrnambool in mid-December to commemorate the first such race in 1895. “Ten minutes after we completed the 336km ride ending up in 40C temperatures, I was admitted to hospital,” Ginn told the Where Do We Begin podcast. “I had a little bit of a heart scare and a little bit of a kidney scare.”

Much fanfare had surrounded Ginn’s appointment, alongside Oliver, in dual roles encompassing the national men’s and women’s teams and the high performance apparatus around them, in the middle of 2019. The two roles had been devised to replace one single and extremely broad commission taken up by their predecessor, Pat Howard, between 2011 and 2018.

It was the recommendation of Howard’s interim replacement, Belinda Clark, that the job be split in two, with the then chief executive Kevin Roberts ultimately deciding on Oliver and Ginn in the two positions after what at times seemed an interminable wait.

A multi-Olympic gold medallist as a rower, Ginn’s only previous experience in cricket had been as the high performance chief of Cricket Tasmania, a brief but eventful tenure in which he made himself known as a critic of much of CA’s direction.

He was an advocate, for one thing, of drastically different training for fast bowlers more aligned to lessons from rowing, a viewpoint that clashed with many of the CA employees he was later to be appointed to manage. Over the past 18 months, Ginn was also involved in the painful discussions around cost-cutting that were initiated by Roberts and the CA Board in response to Covid-19, including the exits of numerous coaches working out of the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane.

“I’ve just been eyes and ears open for three years learning, and I certainly wouldn’t claim to know everything about the sport, because I never really played it,” he told the podcast. “The sport’s been reasonably welcoming to me as a person but not welcoming in terms of you can get away with doing anything and say anything, but rather we appreciate someone coming in from outside who’s had experience and success, but you have to earn your way, earn the right to have an opinion.

“I certainly feel like I’ve been way out of my depth plenty of times, not just from knowing cricket but also what I’ve been managing budget-wise and size of staff and that sort of thing, [it] is stuff I hadn’t experienced before.

“You make mistakes and the key thing for me has been owning those mistakes when you make them as a leader and keep having conversations with people. The relationship is always the key. If you have a good relationship with people, there’s a tolerance there. If you have a terrible relationship with people there’s not a tolerance there. So it’s been a huge learning curve.”

Ginn’s projects had included the elevation of mental health considerations within Australian cricket, including the hire of a new mental health lead position at CA.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

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