Who among us has not walked through the Garden of Eden and been tempted by its wares? If you can deny having taken a bite of the apple, then you are truly in a rare minority, for most of us are only human. And humans by nature are frail. So spare a thought for Clive Howard. Chairman of the Hong Kong Cricket Association for the past three years, Howard stepped down this week on 'moral grounds' after it was revealed he owed the association HK$210,000. Howard had used a corporate credit card for personal expenses. What these expenses were is not known. We are not trying to exonerate or make excuses for Howard who has said he would settle the debt in the next few weeks. But what is sad is that Howard will be remembered for this, rather than his contribution to the local game. A policeman by profession, Howard has been involved for more than a decade in the service of cricket. He has given his time freely and been a dedicated supporter. He has managed the national team, been a committee member and for the past three years, served as chairman. Now it's all gone to waste and Hong Kong's small cricket community has lost a valuable member, something they can ill afford for it is highly unlikely that he will continue to be involved. According to Terry Smith, the president of the HKCA, the biggest issue in this case is not Howard's untimely exit, but the probable reasons for such an event happening. Smith pointed out the workload of the band of volunteers who run the show has mushroomed in recent years, placing huge demands on their time and commitment. 'The real issue here is the operations of the association have grown considerably. We need a more professional approach now to run the show, rather than our existing structure, which has depended on volunteers dedicating their time without any compensation,' Smith said. This is a scenario most sporting associations in Hong Kong can relate to. Apart from a handful employing full-time staff to take care of the grunt work, the majority are run by part-time enthusiasts who devote their time for the love of the game. The HKCA has paid employees - administration and coaching costs last year were HK$2 million - but all the big decisions were made by Howard and an executive committee which also comprises volunteers. Smith now feels the way ahead is to take on board a full-time, paid chief executive who will handle the day-to-day affairs of the body which in recent years has been awash with money. Last year, the HKCA earned revenue of HK$13 million, most of it coming from the highly successful Hong Kong Sixes. The auditors have revealed that at the end of 2007, there was HK$7.4 million in the bank. The willow is healthy, for the moment, but Smith is worried about the future. With Howard's resignation, there is the hint of change in the air. But beware, too much, too soon might not be what the doctor ordered. The annual general meeting on May 23 at the Kowloon Cricket Club will be a landmark one. It is understood that one school of thought wants to replace Howard with a triumvirate comprising a member each from the two established clubs - the KCC and the Hong Kong Cricket Club - and one from the independent clubs. But would this be a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth? The other way is to follow tradition and appoint a successor to Howard. But the problem here is that there is no anointed heir this time. In the past, when a chairman or a president has stepped down, the next incumbent had already been earmarked by the establishment and the voting was all but a mere rubber-stamped process. Not so now. We hear that Sohail Murshed, a Bangladeshi banker, who is also chairman of the international committee, is gunning for the job. Whether anyone will oppose him is still unclear as nominations close only on Tuesday. Smith, who has also toyed with stepping down as president, now seems to have second thoughts. 'It might be sensible for me to stick around,' says Smith in the wake of all the upheaval. He might be right. The last thing Hong Kong cricket wants is a situation where total change is dumped on the governing body. Revolution always walks hand in hand with chaos. It is better to evolve. In any case, who sits at the top of the tree - whether it is a committee of people or a single person - might not matter in the long run with Smith pushing for a CEO to be appointed. The right person must be picked for the job as the game confronts many challenges - from trying to bring on Chinese players to the senior level (an aspect where the HKCA has failed dismally), to finding more grounds and, ensuring the future of the Hong Kong Sixes. 'We need a person who will be involved full-time in handling all our pressing issues. Despite the best will and efforts of the current committee, we cannot continue to carry on where people give their time on a free basis, and hope to develop the game locally,' says Smith. 'If a future historian should write about the development of the game, they'd surely point to Howard's end as a milestone, for it may just be the catalyst that spurred Hong Kong on and upward. 'I'm only human, born to make mistakes,' the songwriter sang. So don't point too many fingers. We could one day be in the same boat.