Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland refuses to blame T20 format for decline

James Sutherland said there is no quick solution for Australia’s woes © Getty Images

Aug 19, 2013

Cricket Australia (CA) Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland has refused to agree that Australian cricket is suffering because of the inclination towards T20 format, and cited India’s example where players take part in many T20 games but are also having success in the longer formats.

Sutherland was quoted as saying by Fox Sports, “Around the world it’s not inconsistent for there to be a period in South Africa or England or India where they play a T20 competition in isolation from their First Class system. This is not unique to Australia.”

“It amuses me when people sometimes say the reason why Australia is not batting well is because we’re playing T20 cricket.  Every cricket nation in the world plays T20 cricket. India plays more of it than anyone. Every Indian cricketer plays in the IPL and yet they seem to have a plethora of talent at the moment,” Sutherland added.

The CA chief said the Australian cricket needs changes in the domestic system, especially finding good batsmen as he thinks the bowling department looks settled, and also to learn adapt playing on slow tracks.

“We’re all impatient for success, everyone involved in Australian cricket. The reality is that the Performance Review [Don Argus report] made clear people shouldn’t have premature expectations about a rebuilding phase. There have been some great things that have happened with our fast bowling stocks over the last couple of years.

“We’ve still got challenges with the batting but there’s a lot of work that’s being done there. There is a lot of work being done with the spinners and we’re starting to see some of them come through,” he said.

Talking more on Australia’s struggle against slow bowlers, like on the tour of India where they lost 0-4, Sutherland said, “What we have seen is that people are preparing pitches to play against Australia that are dry, without a blade of grass and breaking up or taking spin. I don’t think you have to be Einstein to see that people are preparing pitches to suit themselves. I’m not making excuses here, they’re entitled to. We need to get better at playing in these conditions.”

Sutherland added, “We’ve got to give spinners more opportunities to bowl in Shield cricket. At times they’re not getting selected let alone playing a significant part in the game.”

Sutherland admitted that when a team is enjoying a successful run some things get covered up.

“When you have a successful team it papers over deficiencies in your pipeline. It’s easy for people to say we should have done something about that. To some extent people were trying to do things but there is always a resistance to change when people say if it’s not broken don’t fix it,” he said.

“Perhaps in the past there has been too much of a focus on winning trophies [at state level]. The focus now is not just getting more people to play the game but getting genuine cricketers, identifying that talent at 14, 15, 16, keeping it, and getting more sharply focused on that. In the past we haven’t had the resources to invest in that area,” he added.

“Some of our competitors have invested huge amounts of money in their high performance systems,” Sutherland said.

Talking about Australia General Manager Team Performance, Pat Howard, Sutherland said, “The shop front window for us is very much the Australian cricket team but in terms of his role it’s much broader than the national team. Those who are critical of him don’t necessarily understand the depth and breadth of his role.”

“A very significant part of that role is the men’s team, but he also overseas the women’s team, our elite underage competitions, Australia A. We have invested a lot in our under 19s and Pat has been organising Australia A tours to compliment the men’s team. Pat is on a contract. Most people in high performance are on contracts until after the 2015 World Cup. That’s the sort of time frame the Player Review (Argus report) talked about in terms of having expectations,” he said.

Sutherland said the appointment of Mickey Arthur did not provide the desired results.

“Mickey Arthur’s appointment didn’t work out, that’s what happens. I sat on a panel with Mark Taylor and Pat Howard and Mickey was by far the most credentialed candidate. We made a unanimous recommendation to the board and received the unanimous support of the board. We take responsibility for that but sometimes things don’t work out and that wasn’t foreseeable,” he concluded.