Key player in pay war leads contenders to replace Sutherland

James Sutherland's newly appointed second in command, Kevin Roberts, is the early favourite to take over Australian cricket's top job after the chief executive's resignation on Wednesday.

While Cricket Australia has hired a global executive recruitment firm to find Sutherland's successor, chairman David Peever strongly hinted a candidate already within in the Australian set-up would be the governing body's desired choice.

That would appear to count against NRL chief Todd Greenberg and his Football Federation Australia counterpart, David Gallop, who have both been linked to the job in the past.

On his way: Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland announces he will be departing the role.

Photo: AAP

Sutherland, who has been at the helm since 2001, made the announcement on Wednesday that he would serve out his notice period of 12 months to give the organisation time to find a suitable replacement for the long-serving administrator.

Roberts and former Cricket NSW chairman John Warn are the two in cricket whose names have long been linked with the top job, while WACA boss Christina Matthews and CA's head of game development Belinda Clark are both highly regarded. Former CA cricket operations manager Geoff Allardice could also be a contender.


"This is an incredibly complex job, it has many dimensions," Peever said. "What we must do is find the best person for the role.

"While I don't want to put any constraints around it, it is a Cricket Australia role, so we're probably going to have a little bit of bias towards an Australian, and it is a role in cricket, so we'll probably have a bias towards someone in cricket.

"I'm sure there will be very good candidates from within cricket and outside cricket."

Roberts emerged as the heir apparent to Sutherland after stepping down from the board in September 2015 to take an executive position in CA.

Roberts was heavily criticised by the players union last year when he appeared in a video during the pay war, in which he was CA's head negotiator.

But he appears to remain highly regarded at Jolimont after being promoted to chief operating officer two weeks ago, formally becoming Sutherland's deputy.

WACA chief Christina Matthews is another name linked with the role.

Photo: Supplied

"From my perspective, and internally people would know and understand that over the last 12 months or so at least Kevin's had a very broad role and has been effectively my deputy and CEO, so from that perspective I think it's really turning what was a convoluted title into a COO and allows that clarity about his role," Sutherland said of CA's former executive general manager.

Warn became the youngest chair in CNSW history but stepped down this week citing family reasons. He had played a key role behind the scenes in resolving last year's pay war.

Matthews, a former Australia wicketkeeper, has been a key figure in the revival of West Australian cricket after being appointed in December 2011. She had formerly been a senior official at CNSW.

Clark is a former Australia captain and the first woman to be inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame. She managed the National Cricket Centre before taking over as head of game development this year.

Allardice, a former first-class batsman for Victoria and a Melbourne University teammate of Sutherland, was responsible for fixturing at CA before joining the International Cricket Council as its general manager.

Andrew Wu

Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald

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