27/02/2007 - 22:00

Wood's straight bat on WACA

27/02/2007 - 22:00

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Former Australian cricketer and Western Australian captain, Graeme Wood, is gearing up for his toughest test yet, as the new chief executive of the WA Cricket Association.

Wood's straight bat on WACA

Former Australian cricketer and Western Australian captain, Graeme Wood, is gearing up for his toughest test yet, as the new chief executive of the WA Cricket Association.

The 50-year-old, who will take up the position on March 19, was appointed to the top job last month, after Tony Dodemaide accepted the CEO position with Cricket Victoria.

Mr Wood is no stranger to the workings of the WACA, having held a place on its board as vice-president and having been chairman of selectors.

He enters the chief executive position at a pivotal point in the WACA’s 122-year history, with all of WA’s cricket bodies seeking to join under the association’s banner, and the playing arena involved in the state’s sport infrastructure debate.

Speaking from the boardroom of Matilda Bay Brewery Fremantle, during his final weeks as Foster’s Australia general manager of field support and operations, Mr Wood is confident about the task ahead.

“I’ve had a great experience here, initially with Carlton United Breweries as state manager for six years and now Foster’s in the latter part of my career,” he said.

“I think I bring a wide range of skills to the new role, being my management and leadership experience in WA, and obviously my previous experience as a test player, now in administration and with the board, in a selection capacity.”

Mr Wood said he was ready for a new challenge after holding a national role with Foster’s for more than 17 years.

A busy travelling schedule at Foster’s undoubtedly helped him make the decision to take on the WACA role.

“It [travel] probably does take its toll. I fly about 40 times a year, so it would be great to settle into a role here in Perth,” Mr Wood told WA Business News.

First cab off the rank for the cricketing veteran is finding a new state coach for the Western Warriors by July, to replace retiring coach Wayne Clark.

Former WA great and current Sri Lankan national coach Tom Moody is believed to be high on the list of potential candidates.

“Tom Moody would be a priority, but there are other coaches in the Australian system that we would obviously look at.”

Producing more test players from the WA stable was another important factor for the future of the game in WA, he said.

Building on the WACA’s bumper revenue of more than $15 million in 2005-06 was also a goal, although Mr Wood believed it would be a difficult year to better, considering the bounty provided by the Ashes win.

The board is now in the process of assessing its fixtures for next season and making revenue forecasts five to six years ahead.

“The new board came on two years ago and has since done a tremendous job restructuring the finances. That’s a high priority, maintaining a profitable and viable situation there at the WACA,” Mr Wood said.

Adding to the WACA workload is its plan to take all of the cricketing bodies – Cricket West, Country Cricket, Indigenous Cricket, Women’s Cricket and the district’s Cricket Council – under its wing, so as to generate more exposure and fund opportunities for the groups.

On the subject of making the WACA Ground more profitable, Mr Wood conceded the venue’s capacity of 24,000 would remain its limit for now.

He revealed the board would not commit to a position on a potential upgrade or expansion until the Stadia Taskforce’s recommendations were handed down within weeks.

“Until those recommendations come down and the government makes its decision, we’ll be looking at all alternatives,” he said.

“The WACA ground is an icon and is recognised as one of the top six grounds in the world. I hope the WACA remains representative of WA cricket, but we would consider co-habitation if the offer was right.”

Currently the WACA’s revenue is curtailed by the number of corporate boxes it has to sell, a problem compounded by the fact that popular international games only occupy seven days of the year.

Meanwhile, Pura Cup state league boxes remain a challenge for the association to offload.

Mr Wood said he would, in time, look at all revenue streams and consider opportunities for more events and/or concerts at the ground.

More importantly, he would seek a clear vision of how WA cricket “should be structured”, and considers this his biggest challenge over the next three years.

For the record, Mr Wood played for Australia in 59 Tests, scoring nine centuries, and 83 one-day internationals between 1978 and 1989.

He also played 125 first-class matches for WA, captaining the side to three Sheffield Shield victories in 1986-87, 1987-88 and 1988-89.

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