Sutherland insists he will not resign as Cricket Australia CEO
Cricket Australia (CA) CEO James Sutherland has insisted he will not be stepping down from his role in the wake of the ball-tampering saga that has rocked the sport.
Australia's series against South Africa has been thrown into turmoil following the revelation that captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and Cameron Bancroft hatched a plot to illegally manipulate the ball on day three of the third Test at Newlands.
All three have been sent home by CA, Smith and Warner banned for a year while Bancroft has been suspended for nine months, and there was a further twist on Thursday as head coach Darren Lehmann - whom Sutherland said knew nothing of the plan - announced he will resign after the fourth and final Test at the Wanderers, which begins on Friday.
Sutherland subsequently faced the media in Johannesburg but remained defiant in the face of critics who have called for him to follow Lehmann's example.
"I'm absolutely committed to my job. My employment and tenure is a matter for the board of Cricket Australia, but I'm not resigning and, in fact, what's happened over the last few days has only strengthened my resolve to ensure that Australian cricket and the Australian cricket team gets back on track and gets back in a place where it has not only the full respect but the pride of the Australian community," he said.
Regarding Lehmann, Sutherland had kind words for a man who has overseen two Ashes victories as well as World Cup glory on home soil.
James Sutherland: Darren Lehmann is the coach for this Test and I wish him and the team all the best (he then says there's a couple of months to find a replacement ahead of Australia's next tour, which is in England in June).-- cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) March 29, 2018
"He's provided a fantastic service but he's also been a part of a very successful team that has achieved a lot in his time as coach," Sutherland said. "They won a World Cup in 2015, a couple of winning Ashes series and, at various times during the course of his tenure, the team in various formats has gone to number one in the world.
"I've seen first-hand the pride in which he has gone about his work, the love he has for the job, his incredible work ethic and I think one of the things that really strikes me about Darren and his character as a coach is the way that he genuinely cares for and loves his players.
"I have huge regard and respect for the way he's gone about his job over the time he's been coaching the Australian men's team. I want to take this opportunity to thank him, on behalf of Australian cricket and Cricket Australia, for his service as coach of the Australian men's cricket team."
While Sutherland admitted to not having seen Smith's emotional news conference - the former captain breaking down in tears upon his return to Sydney - the CEO implored the Australian public to rally round the disgraced trio.
James Sutherland: Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft are in a very sad and difficult place right now and we will offer them and their families support.-- cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) March 29, 2018
"I will, in time, look at that, but having spent a little bit of time with Steve in the last couple of days, I know how he feels, how sad, how remorseful he is and our hearts go out to him and the other two players as well," Sutherland said.
"Again, I want to reiterate the fact that right now, we want to support them to the best of our ability. They've made mistakes; they've made mistakes that have [had] significant consequences, life-changing mistakes, but at the same time we should all support them and allow them to rehabilitate and get back playing the game they love."