After 17 years in the high-profile post, Sutherland has given 12 months’ notice.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on June 6, 2018

When James Sutherland became CEO of Cricket Australia, Steve Waugh was leading the all-conquering mens’ team in his battered baggy green and the Big Bash League was still a decade away.

That end of an era is in sight though, as Sutherland announced his resignation at a media conference in Melbourne on 8 June 2018.

“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.

“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 deal 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.”

Cricket Australia Chairman David Peever said Sutherland “has been instrumental in driving change around the game to make it even stronger for future generations”.

Sutherland’s departure caps an era of dramatic change in Australian cricket. After the ball-tampering scandal in March 2018, Steve Smith (captain), David Warner (vice-captain) and Darren Lehmann (coach) all resigned their posts.

In the wake of those resignations, there was also pressure on Sutherland to stand aside. He told reporters today the timing of his exit had nothing to do with the ball-tampering saga.

“It hasn’t had a bearing on my decision,” he said. “David (Peever) and I have been talking about this for two years.

“It just feels like a good time for me to hand over the reins in an orderly fashion to my successor.”

A time of change for Australian cricket

Tim Paine has since taken over as captain of the mens’ team for Tests and One Day Internationals, with Justin Langer installed as coach.

In another major change this year, Cricket Australia signed a lucrative new broadcast deal with Seven West Media (owners of the Seven Network) and Foxtel. This brought to an end the game’s long association with Channel Nine.

Sutherland oversaw the introduction of the Big Bash League in 2011 and the Women’s Big Bash League in 2015. Both have changed the face of Australian domestic cricket.

During his time as CEO, cricket participation numbers in Australia increased from approximately 400,000 to more than 1.4 million.

The incoming CEO faces the task of restoring the public’s faith in Australian cricket. The commercial fortunes of the sport also dipped in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal, with sponsors leaving the game en masse.

There is no clear frontrunner for Sutherland’s position, but Christina Matthews (currently CEO of the Western Australian Cricket Association) could be an interesting candidate. Justin Langer previously paid tribute to Matthews’ work at the Western Australian Cricket Association and its hugely successful Perth Scorchers franchise.