BRETT LEE scored a major victory in his feud with David Gilbert on Wednesday after escaping censure for his scathing criticism of the Cricket NSW chief executive.
Lee was alleged to have brought the game into disrepute after calling for Gilbert's sacking in The Sun-Herald last month but now Cricket NSW has created a forum for the paceman, and other former players and officials, to air grievances to the board. Instead of slapping Lee on the wrist for his controversial comments, the organisation has established a subcommittee of its board.
Fairfax Media understands former state selector Marshall Rosen will be on the subcommittee that is likely to include two or three other board members with cricket-related expertise. Lee could meet the panel next week after the Sydney Sixers, who are only a mathematical chance of qualifying for the Big Bash League semi-finals, play their last fixture.
Lee, accompanied by his manager - former NSW and Victoria all-rounder Neil Maxwell - was involved in discussions behind closed doors for three hours with Gilbert and Cricket Australia's code of conduct commissioner Terry Buddin. The 36-year-old was apprehensive entering the hearing but had no case to answer after charges of unbecoming behaviour and detrimental public comment were withdrawn.
Fairfax Media believes the NSW board members were divided over how to deal with Lee. Wednesday's events put Gilbert under more pressure to remain in the post he has held for 12 years.
While Lee was the first to publicly criticise Gilbert, a former Test paceman who performed with distinction for NSW in the 1980s, a host of former players have privately questioned his future. A source told Fairfax Media that Lee had received ''overwhelming support'' in recent days.
The issue came to a head just before Christmas when Lee said Gilbert should have been sacked instead of former NSW coach Anthony Stuart. Lee stood by his comments and did not offer an apology to Gilbert after the hearing, saying ''commonsense'' had prevailed.
Nor was he prepared to comment on whether he believed Gilbert was the man to lead NSW into the future. ''We'll have to wait and see, won't we?'' Lee said.
''I can't really give too much more other than I'm pleased with the outcome and the agreement that all charges have been dropped. I'll be looking forward in the next seven or 12 days to meet with the subcommittee of the board and get this state back to where it used to be. To me, Cricket NSW and playing for the baggy blue is where it started … I'm very passionate about NSW cricket, and I want to get it back to where it was in the last decade. Today's been fantastic, it's been a great win, and both parties can walk away feeling quite happy.''
Gilbert was not available for comment but a statement issued by Cricket NSW said ''both parties are very pleased to have found a way forward and at having arrived at a very positive mutual outcome.''