Selection chief axed as cash crisis cuts deep
Queensland Cricket has been forced to axe its highly regarded selection boss but has promised to go down swinging in the war over Cricket Australia pay cuts.
Long-time QC employee Justin Sternes, who chaired Queensland's selection panel and managed its pathway system, is one of 32 full-time employees axed following the COVID-19 cash crisis.
Sternes has been one of Queensland Cricket's longest serving and most highly rated employees and has stepped up three times as a stand-in coach for the Bulls after sudden coaching departures during his two decade stint at QC.
His departure embodies the pain of the cuts which will see many experienced, hardworking officials who have donated the bulk of their working lives to the game leave the premises.
Despite the staff cuts, Queensland is yet to agree to Cricket Australia's demand that they reduce costs by 25 per cent and QC chairman Chris Simpson is adamant more questions must be answered before Queensland signs up.
"We have not signed the agreement," Simpson said.
"We are trying to learn how long their proposed cuts run for. It is a bit ambiguous how they have presented it.
"We want clarity on the term and we also want to make sure 25 per cent is the ceiling.
"We also want to make sure that should things be better than what they are modelling - and every day we are getting more positive about the prospect of serious cricket content this season - we don't want to lock into something that is to the detriment of the states.
"Should things be better than what they are modelling, we should be given that money back."
Sceptical states believe that the funding cuts have been based on a worst-case scenario which may never eventuate.
Simpson admitted that hearing Cricket Australia boss Kevin Roberts say last week that the Indian tour of Australia next summer was a "nine out of 10"' chance of happening put the proposed cuts into a sharper focus, given an Indian tour is worth $300 million to Australian cricket.
"We have been told for a long time how big a deal the Indian tour is, so to hear that optimism brings the depth of the cuts into focus," he said.
It may seem incongruous that Queensland has parted with 32 staff yet are still trying to hold their ground over signing for the funding cut, but Simpson said Queensland had to react to Cricket Australia's alleged financial peril.
NSW is the only other state which has not signed up for the cuts, but they have managed to avoid major staff reductions because they have much deeper financial resources than Queensland.
"Eighty per cent of our funding comes from one source (Cricket Australia) and they have said they potentially have solvency issues, so it is our duty to act on that information," Simpson said.
"We disagree with a lot of the information provided but we still had to act.
"NSW have a very big book and they can ride it out. We can't."
Simpson said at no point had Cricket Australia threatened to quash Brisbane's bid to host the first Test of the summer against India because of the dispute.
Originally published as Shock as selection chief axed as cash crisis cuts deep