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James Sutherland stands down as Cricket Australia CEO

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia CEO, has decided to stand down from his position.

Sutherland made public his decision on Wednesday, June 6, adding that he will serve a 12-month notice period before a suitable replacement is found to make the transition process smooth.

Sutherland has been associated with CA since 1998 and took over as the CEO in 2001.

“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,” Sutherland said.

The Big Bash League gained prominence during the Sutherland era

The Big Bash League came into existence during the Sutherland years

“In the last 12 months, we have laid key foundation stones which have included a new strategy for Australian cricket, a new Memorandum of Understanding with the Australian Cricketers’ Association that provides certainty for our male and female cricketers, and just recently, a new domestic broadcast rights deals that will see broader TV coverage and significant increases in revenue flowing into the game.

“With these foundations in place, I feel that it is a good time to hand over the reins to a new CEO. My successor will have a strong and stable platform from which to lead our national strategy and to deliver on our bold aspirations to grow cricket as Australia’s favourite sport and a sport for all Australians.”

Sutherland’s long and distinguished career went through turbulent times recently, especially the acrimonious pay dispute with the players and then the ball-tampering episode in South Africa earlier this year.

Australia men won three World Cups – in 2003, 2007 and 2011 – during the time Sutherland was at the helm

Australia won three World Cups – in 2003, 2007 and 2011 – during Sutherland’s stint

CA chairman David Peever lauded Sutherland for his contribution to the sport, saying, “James has been instrumental in driving crucial change around the game to make it even stronger for future generations.

“During his period of leadership, James has retained a strong passion for junior cricket and its fundamental importance in providing sustainable growth to the sport. To that end, cricket has experienced a 228% increase in participation including a near ten-fold increase in female participation.”

It was during Sutherland’s stint that Australia’s domestic T20 competition, the Big Bash League, gained in prominence. The Women’s Big Bash League also came into existence during his tenure, as did day/night Test cricket, and CA has experienced never-before revenue generation.

Former captain Steve Smith was banned for 12 months for his involvement in the ball-tampering controversy

The ball-tampering controversy was one of the low points of Sutherland’s tenure

“Aggregate attendances have increased by 137%, whilst revenue has also increased nearly ten-fold being around $50million when James commenced in the position, to around $500million today,” pointed out Peever.

“James was heavily involved with the introduction of the highly successful Big Bash League, Women’s Big Bash League and of course Day-Night Test Cricket which has seen record crowds at venues where it is held.”

The decision to step down from the CEO position, though, might have been because of the recent ball-tampering controversy. Steve Smith and David Warner have since been banned for 12 months, while Cameron Bancroft was handed a ban for nine months. This was followed by Darren Lehmann quitting as the coach of the national team.

At the time of the developments taking place, Sutherland had iterated that he had no intention of stepping down from his role.

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