Cricket Australia names Kevin Roberts as replacement for former CEO James Sutherland

Kevin Roberts was lead negotiator for Cricket Australia in last year's pay row, when the organisation was accused of using hardball negotiating tactics in a bid to cap remuneration costs.

Agence France-Presse, Oct 03, 2018 12:11:03 IST

Sydney: Cricket Australia (CA) on Wednesday named insider Kevin Roberts — who spearheaded an ill-fated attempt to slash players' pay last year — to lead the troubled organisation in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal.

Roberts was appointed chief executive officer and on 25 October will formally replace James Sutherland, who announced in June he was stepping down after 17 years at the helm.

Roberts takes over with CA still under fire over the cheating scandal and smarting from divisions between players and administrators over the bitter pay dispute.

Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts will replace James Sutherland on 25 October. Image courtesy: Twitter/@CAComms

"The game and Cricket Australia have faced some difficult times recently, but we will bounce back," the 46-year-old said.

Sutherland won plaudits during his long tenure for negotiating a lucrative new television rights deal and popularising the Big Bash League, day-night Tests and women's cricket.

But he faced a career-ending crisis in March when former captain Steve Smith, his deputy David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft attempted to alter the ball in the third Test in South Africa.

They were all sent home in disgrace and handed lengthy bans, with then-coach Darren Lehmann resigning and Sutherland eventually choosing to walk after coming under sustained pressure.

His replacement Roberts is a former opening batsman for New South Wales who moved into business when his cricketing career failed to take off.

He worked for a range of sporting companies including adidas, 2XU and Canterbury before joining Cricket Australia in 2012, first as a board director, then as part of the executive management team.

Roberts was lead negotiator for Cricket Australia in last year's pay row, when the organisation was accused of using hardball negotiating tactics in a bid to cap remuneration costs.

'Building bridges'

The brinksmanship saw top players left off contract for a month and resulted in the cancellation of an Australia A tour to South Africa before CA eventually backed down.

The dispute cemented a view within the game that Roberts is the favoured protege of CA chairman David Peever, a polarising figure with a reputation for union busting in his former life as a mining executive.

The promotion of an internal candidate to replace Sutherland will also raise questions about CA's commitment to changing the organisation's culture in the wake of the ball-tampering affair.

The cheating scandal rocked Australian cricket to its core, undermining the long-held notion that its players were "tough but fair".

Critics blamed a win-at-all-costs mentality that they said developed under Sutherland and his management team, including Roberts.

CA denied the charge but set up two separate inquiries to examine how the scandal occurred, one looking at player behaviour and the other examining the team's culture.

Neither report has yet been released but CA has chosen to appoint one of its own to the top job.

Peever said the chief executive's role was so complex that it made sense to promote from within.

The Australian Cricketers' Association, the players' union which locked horns with Roberts last year, wished Roberts well and said he needed to help cricket "reconnect" with disillusioned fans.

Roberts also sounded a conciliatory note, saying he wanted to improve relations with the players' body.

"There will be bumps in the road for cricket along the way, no question, we are all human and we will experience some challenges along the way," he told reporters.

"But (we will) work on really sincerely, genuinely building that relationship with the ACA."

Updated Date: Oct 03, 2018 12:46:01 IST


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