Cricket Australia’s departing chief executive James Sutherland has spoken of his “WTF moment” during the ball-tampering scandal that rocked the sport in March.
Sutherland, who has stepped down from the position he held for 17 years, has also revealed his regret at not having a bigger influence on how CA handled the incident during an interview with ESPNcricinfo.
Australia’s former captain Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft are serving bans for ball-tampering during the Test series against South Africa.
Sutherland turned off his television at the end of the third day of the third Test in Cape Town and did not see footage which showed Bancroft had used sandpaper to change the condition of the ball.
Sutherland also missed the team’s attempts at a cover-up during a press conference, in which Smith lied about the object used on the ball and who had been involved.
“At a guess it would’ve been about midnight I suppose,” Sutherland said when asked what time he had switched off his television. “But, yeah, I wish I was watching, absolutely. It was a serious WTF moment there.
“I’d like to think that my judgement and possibly influence would have meant that the media conference would have gone slightly differently.
“As we know, that was part of the penalty and the severity of the penalty, was to some extent related or at least was consequential in terms of how that was handled – not telling the truth, or not telling the whole truth.”
Both sides had repeatedly over-stepped the boundaries of conduct in the lead up to, and during, the third Test at Newlands.
The series had been overshadowed by numerous confrontations between opposing players both on and off the field before Bancroft was caught ball-tampering.
Sutherland said he had voiced his concerns earlier in the series that events could spiral out of control, but his warnings went unheeded.
“I was heartbroken by the events that happened and I think that in some ways I totally understand that in the heat of battle things can boil over and go awry and there can be regrettable incidents.
“I think in some ways the issues of Cape Town were a different thing altogether, it wasn’t necessarily a confrontation between two players, that was a premeditated WTF moment that shocked us all.
“Part of the extent of my disappointment around Cape Town is heightened by what happened earlier in the series, and my feeling that there were warning signals.
“There were lots of other things going on, and some disgraceful behaviour during the Port Elizabeth Test, provocation by opposition fans but also administrators from the opposition team.”
Smith and vice-captain Warner were each banned for 12 months for their part in the ball-tampering incident and Bancroft was suspended for nine months.