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Inside story: A farewell hug but will cricket's bloodletting end?

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friday

When Ben Amarfio got to the bottom of the stairs leading into the Cricket Australia carpark in Jolimont on Thursday morning, he and Sean Carroll, the sport's head of security, and a good friend, gave each other a hug and wished each other the best.

Amarfio, the general manager of broadcasting, digital media and commercial, had just been jettisoned by CA's new chief executive Kevin Roberts and, in front of stunned staff, had to leave the sport's headquarters immediately. It's standard business practice for a terminated employee, particularly a senior one, to be escorted from the building, for a company must protect its intellectual property. This happened to CA's former head of integrity Iain Roy earlier this year.

Ben Amarfio.Credit:Josh Robenstone

There had been scuttlebutt Amarfio, a proud man whose father was a professional boxer, had been tempted to let his emotions explode, but that wasn't the case. It's understood Amarfio, having left his security tag in his office, had asked Carroll to buzz him into the carpark.

Regardless, the hug Amarfio, one of the more polarising figures in the game, and Carroll shared is perhaps an example of what the sport needs right now - a bit of love amid the ongoing fall-out of the ball tampering scandal in South Africa.

Roberts may have declared that he did not expect any more changes at an executive level in the short term but there is little doubt there are several experienced CA staffers wondering, even nervously, this weekend whether they fit in with the new regime.

More than seven months since Cameron Bancroft pulled out that small piece of yellow sandpaper in an (unsuccessful) bid to scuff the ball during the Cape Town Test, the ramifications - more sweeping than anyone had predicted - continue to be felt.

Roberts, having fended off questions about his own role in the cultural demise, and completing his opening fortnight as CA's new chief executive, made the first prominent move (outside of reconfiguring James Sutherland's office) this week when he hastened the departure of team performance boss Pat Howard and sacked Amarfio, as part of cultural change.

Amarfio had been a contentious figure at Jolimont headquarters and among the sport's stakeholders, particularly during this year's ugly broadcast rights negotiations when he fell out with Channel Nine, but his supporters - he had more than 70 staffers under his watch - deny claims he was arrogant.

Howard had a lukewarm relationship with players and had fallen afoul of the Australian Cricketers Association.

"It was necessary to reset. Pat was very good but rubbed people up........

© The Age