Justin Langer James Sutherland CA Cricket Australia Australia tour England 2018
Justin Langer (left) and James Sutherland Getty Images

Australia coach Justin Langer paid tribute to ‘outstanding’ James Sutherland on Wednesday. Langer added that he would be ‘surprised’ if the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa had played any part in the Cricket Australia chief executive’s decision to leave his post. Sutherland, who has been Chief Executive for 17 of his nearly 20 years with Cricket Australia (CA), announced earlier on Wednesday he would be standing down. He has given a 12 months’ notice but will continue in his role until a suitable replacement is found.

Sutherland came under pressure to quit in March when Steven Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft attempted to alter the ball in the third Test in South Africa. All three were sent home in disgrace and banned from state and international cricket over one of the biggest scandals to engulf the sport. Coach Darren Lehmann resigned and was replaced by Langer.

Sutherland resisted a clamour for his resignation and he insisted Wednesday the scandal had “no bearing” on his decision, a view endorsed by Langer: “His leadership has been outstanding over the last 18 or 19 years. I always remember (former Australia coach) John Buchanan saying you judge a champion by their longevity and he’s had a long time in the job,” said Langer, speaking at Lord’s, where Australia were training ahead of a one-day international series in England.

“He (Sutherland) has done a brilliant job for Australian cricket,” added Langer. “He’ll be missed, he’s an outstanding person and he’ll be really missed at the top of Australian cricket.”

Pressed on whether the ball-tampering incident had played part in Sutherland’s decision, Langer replied: “I don’t think so. He’s been in the job a long time. “If you go through the corporate world, there’s [sic] very few CEOs who have been there as long as he has. In a sense he’s been an outlier to be there for so long.

“He’s done a brilliant job, the recent TV rights deal, he’s set a great foundation and I’d be surprised if that (the South Africa crisis prompting Sutherland’s decision) was the case.”

Australia will be taking on an England side who are currently top of the one-day international rankings. They face Sussex at Hove on Thursday before another warm-up match against Middlesex at Lord’s on Saturday. Australia will then head across London for the first of a 5-match ODI series against England at The Oval on Wednesday, June 13.