Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland on Wednesday announced he will stand down from his role. Speaking on his decision, Sutherland said he felt the time was right to step down. "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 deals that will see broader TV coverage and significant increases in revenue flowing into the game," he said.
"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 said.
"As it has been over the last 20 years, it will be a privilege and honour to continue to serve the game over the remaining months that I am in office," he said.
Sutherland, who began at Cricket Australia in 1998, has been CEO since 2001. He has provided 12 months' notice and will continue in his current position until a suitable replacement is found. The period allows for a transition to complete a comprehensive handover with the successful candidate.
Sutherland becomes the latest in a growing list of changes in Australian cricket over recent months. He came under intense pressure in March when former captain Steve Smith, his deputy David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft attempted to alter the ball during the Newlands Test in South Africa. They were all sent home in disgrace and banned from state and international cricket over one of the biggest scandals to engulf the sport, while then-coach Darren Lehmann resigned and was replaced by Justin Langer.
Sutherland resisted calls to quit and insisted Wednesday the crisis did not have any bearing on his decision.
"It certainly was a big issue at the time. But when you work in an industry and an environment as we do, as chief executive of a major sport, these things come from time to time," he said.
"It hasn't had a bearing on my decision."
Asked why he was not leaving immediately, Sutherland said he wanted a smooth transition.
"I think that having been in the role for 17 years, there are things that I've come to know along the way, that it's only appropriate for me to work closely with my successor. But at the same time, I'll be looking to get out of their way as quickly as possible as well," he said.
(With AFP inputs)