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Sutherland to stay even if Ashes lost 5-0

Daniel Brettig

October 24, 2013

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James Sutherland at the announcement of the Commonwealth Bank as Australia's major sponsor, Sydney, May 15, 2013
James Sutherland's position is secure for the foreseeable future © Getty Images
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James Sutherland's 12-year-old tenure as chief executive of Cricket Australia is so secure that not even a 5-0 defeat to England at home in the forthcoming Ashes series would be enough to remove him, the CA chairman, Wally Edwards, has said.

Following an AGM in Melbourne, CA laid out a strong financial position, to the point that the game's governors have set up a future fund that will peak at A$70 million in reserves. Edwards launched a fierce defence of his chief executive, with Sutherland himself rebuking Ricky Ponting's contention that the organisation lacked vision and ignored requests for greater forward thinking when the national team was strong.

Edwards confirmed that Sutherland was under contract until June 2015 following that year's World Cup, and that nothing would stop him from seeing out that term. "We want to see continued improvement," Edwards said. "If we lost the series 5-0, James Sutherland will still be the CEO of Australian cricket, and James is contracted through to June 2015 after the World Cup, and there will not be any changes in that situation, regardless of the way we perform on the field this summer.

"I don't know where the stories are coming from but they're not real in our world. I can reaffirm there is absolutely no discontent whatsoever with James' performance, and I'm bewildered where the story's come from, but you would understand that better than me. We're very confident where we're going. We have a solid plan and it's not just a plan for a quick fix, it's a plan for continued high performance of our men's and women's sides."

Sutherland defended his own position and that of the team performance manager Pat Howard, following comments by former coach Mickey Arthur that both men, alongside the captain Michael Clarke, would be under enormous pressure for their jobs should the Ashes be lost. But he saved his most pointed responses for Ponting's contention that CA had not responded to the requests of coaches and players to buttress the national team against coming storms when Australia was still the world's undisputed No.1.

"Over six years up to that time [2012] we grew from $39 million dollars to $75 million of investment in high performance and elite teams, which includes player payments," Sutherland said. "Take player payments out of that, $7 million grew to $19 million in and around the team. That is not the sign of an organisation that is failing to invest in high performance activities.

"Ricky Ponting had no budget responsibility, and he didn't have any sort of view as to what the budget was. He wouldn't know. There might be things along the way he is looking for. In that same period the number of staff with the Australian team doubled. I'm not getting into a tit for tat conversation about Ricky Ponting. We will have our own private conversations as we have, and we understand each other very well. We are on very good terms."

When questioned on what goals were set for the improvement of the national team over the coming summer, Sutherland said that while he was naturally intent on ensuring that the Ashes be regained, there was a bigger picture to be aware of. Edwards and Sutherland have overseen major governance reform in Australian cricket, while also attempting to ensure the game is as well placed as possible to fight for talent and support in what the chief executive regards as the world's most competitive sporting landscape.

"It's not just about the team," Sutherland said. "What I am responsible for and what the management of Australian cricket is responsible for, which includes the state and territory cricket associations, is the strategy for Australian cricket, and delivering on all of those things. We've got an increasingly complex business in a highly competitive market. There's no other country in the world that has as much competitiveness for sport entertainment and elite talent as what there is in Australia.

"Therefore our strategy and the delivery of that strategy is incredibly important. We can only achieve the potential for our sport if we have all the moving parts going in the same direction. That's why the unification process for Australian cricket that we are going through right now is so important.

"We are very confident that with Wally as chairman and him working closely with state boards, and me working closely with the management teams of state associations, that we're going in the right direction. And I include cricket performance as well. This is not just business speak. This is talking about state associations taking responsibility for the development of cricket, [so] that [they] are ready to play cricket for Australia and win cricket matches."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by ScottStevo on (October 26, 2013, 21:02 GMT)

@Front-Foot-Lunge, do England look certain to win? After the last Ashes performance, I'd say it's up for grabs. As for empty stadiums, obviously you don't recollect the way Lord's and the Oval were prior to 2005 when against Aus you could walk in on day 1 and get a ticket on the gate for about £10!

Posted by   on (October 26, 2013, 8:19 GMT)

Sutherland should go even if we win 5-0!!

Posted by johnnybox on (October 26, 2013, 1:44 GMT)

Dear Wally. So you "don't know where all those stories are coming from but they're not real in our world". My goodness. Your world must be at the beach because your head is obviously in the sand. Even blind Freddy can see that the only thing that appears of any importance to CA and especially its CEO is the financial statement.

Posted by shirl on (October 26, 2013, 0:51 GMT)

I am nervous "we grew from $39 million dollars to $75 million of investment" that is not even real solid money, it is figures & judgements on players that are not performing well.....This is the basis to keep the heads of CA???? Judging the state of Australian Men's Cricket on fake dollars instead of solid victories and successful world standing is just awful. Said before, say agin, dump them all & bring in young blood.....

Posted by Sigismund on (October 25, 2013, 19:24 GMT)

This guy is so obviously a major part of the problem. He may even be the architect. I am utterly baffled as to why he hasn't yet been hounded out; what's up with you Baggygreenlanders? Whatever happens, it is going to be a while before Australia has a team of serious quality again - but this is more important than that. These fellows are enemies to the Game in Australia; they are literally pimping it out. You need to remind them that the blessed Game "ain't their ho".

Posted by NAP73 on (October 25, 2013, 11:09 GMT)

So I have to wait until mid-2015 before I start following and watching the Aussie cricket team in earnest again. Oh well, at least I have a more definitive date now. I am amazed at how management lives in fantasy land all the time. Short term profit does not breed sustainability. Then again, many companies do the same thing.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (October 25, 2013, 8:07 GMT)

It's that time of the year again, when England look certain to beat Australia in the Ashes in their own back yard, and Australia squirm, this time pretending it'll all be ok if they lose 5-0. No amount of wriggling will save them from yet another Ashes defeat it seems, this time with all the Australian press corps looking on. It's going to be another emty stadium affair (as is traditional in sport over there when the national team loses). Who could forget all those rows of seats empty last time as Oz support melted away like n ice cream in the middle of summer. I hope there's more support this series.

Posted by Rocketman1 on (October 25, 2013, 4:01 GMT)

Well done James. You running of a business is excellent and your financial skills are clearly reflected on your balance sheet. Does Cricket Australia have an Operations Manager? They clearly need one with the way their employees (players) are managed and the way they perform.

Posted by Skittled on (October 25, 2013, 3:30 GMT)

CA= Complete arrogance and disdain for fans. They better put all that money aside and use it to purchase some fans when they all stop watching. I'm not going to watch at the Gabba this year, will watch a bit on TV but my level of interest is waning

Posted by cricket_ahan on (October 25, 2013, 2:50 GMT)

To think we thought the problem stopped at him, seems clear now that it extends beyond even the Chief Executive and is a pervasive weakness in governance. What also doesn't make sense is how the national coach can then be so easily sacked given the leniency on the executives? Ridiculous... feel ashamed as an Australian to have such a group of individuals administration our country's cricket interests.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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