James Sutherland has announced he’s quitting as Cricket Australia’s chief executive two months after a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa resulted in suspensions for the test captain and vice-captain and the resignation of coach Darren Lehmann.
Sutherland, who confirmed his departure at a news conference Wednesday, has given 12 months’ notice and will continue in his position until a replacement is found.
A former first-class cricketer with Victoria state, Sutherland was appointed in 2001 to replace Malcolm Speed. Participation in the sport grew under his leadership but his tenure was punctuated by some controversies.
In March, captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft were caught up in a plot to tamper with the match ball during the third test against South Africa in Cape Town.
Smith and Warner were subsequently banned by Cricket Australia from international and domestic first-class cricket for 12 months, and Bancroft for nine months. The sanctions were significantly harsher than any imposed by the International Cricket Council for similar offenses.
Lehmann quit as national coach less than a week later, after being cleared of any involvement in the ball-tampering incident.
Smith has been replaced as captain by Tim Paine. Justin Langer has since taken over for Lehmann as national coach.
There were five Australian coaches during Sutherland’s tenure. John Buchanan took over in 1999 before Sutherland began as chief executive, was replaced by Tim Nielsen (2007-2011), Mickey Arthur (2011-13) and Lehmann (2013) before Langer was appointed last month.
Sutherland also presided over a contentious period in the past year while Cricket Australia negotiated a new pay deal with the players’ union.
The sport’s national governing body also announced in April a new six-year television deal in which domestic coverage move from Australia’s longtime cricket telecaster, the Nine Network, to Seven and Fox Sports.
On Wednesday, Sutherland said “after nearly 20 years at Cricket Australia, the time is right … I feel very comfortable that this is the right time for me and a good time for the game.”