Australia's selection chairman Rod Marsh has become the first notable figure to quit amidst the plummeting fortunes of the national team, forcing an extraordinary board meeting later on Wednesday to decide on his replacement.
Marsh and fellow selectors Trevor Hohns and Mark Waugh met in Hobart during the course of Australia's innings defeat to South Africa, before the 69-year-old passed on his decision to resign immediately to Cricket Australia. He had previously flagged his intention not to continue after his contract expires in June next year.
"This is my own decision and no one within Cricket Australia has pressured me or even suggested that I should do this," Marsh said. "Clearly, though, it is time for some fresh thinking, just as it is for our Test team to welcome some new faces as we build for the future.
"I have always had the best interests of Australian cricket foremost in my heart, and that's why I have made this decision.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed the role and want to thank the coach, the staff, my co-selectors and all the players for their support and honesty over the past two and a half years. It was a thrill for me to be involved in many successes, including the World Cup win in 2015.
"I wish the captain, coach and the team all the best going forward. We will be great again."
The CA chairman David Peever spoke of Marsh's contribution to Australian cricket. "Rod has played a pivotal role during a time of change in Australian cricket, which has seen the team hold the top positions in both Test and one-day rankings as well as secure an ICC Cricket World Cup victory," he said.
"We understand this decision has not come easily for Rod and on behalf of Australian cricket we thank him for his leadership and the integrity and insight he brought to the role throughout his tenure as the national selector and the lifelong commitment he has given to our sport. Above all else, Rod is an outstanding person."
Having served Australia with distinction as a wicketkeeper before successfully helming the national academies of both Australia and England, Marsh joined the selection panel in 2011 following the release of the Argus review, and replaced John Inverarity as chairman in May 2014.
His tenure featured home series wins over India, New Zealand and the West Indies plus the 2015 World Cup victory also at home. However the team also lost badly away from home to Pakistan, England and Sri Lanka, before the current humiliating results to South Africa that hastened his exit.
Earlier on Wednesday, the CA chief executive James Sutherland had not given any indication of Marsh's intention to quit. "Rod's in the job and he's doing clearly, like everyone else, they are doing the best job they can and working very hard at it," Sutherland had said. "He will finish up, or he's said that he's going to finish up in June and we'll make decisions about that and how we transition that in the future."