Cricket Australia chairman Wally Edwards has unequivocally backed James Sutherland to continue as chief executive, saying his management team had done all it could to avoid the cultural meltdown that has befallen Australian cricket.
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Sutherland is contracted until 2015 and on Monday said he had no reason to review his own position in light of the on and off-field malfunctions that led to Mickey Arthur’s shock axing as coach.

However, he has come under scrutiny as the chief of an organisation that has failed to meet the standards set out in the Argus review, and because he was slow to take control of the behavioural issues that bubbled to the surface in India.

He waited until after the 4-0 drubbing to gather the facts. A long-awaited public show of leadership came when he slammed the behaviour of David Warner and his fellow drinkers at the Walkabout in Birmingham, describing it as despicable.

Edwards said Sutherland had driven major achievements for the business and governance of Cricket Australia including landmark media rights and sponsorship deals. He said the team’s operations and performances were ”probably the only area that we haven’t achieved above what we hoped to achieve but that’s not to say we won’t”.

”That’s the reason for changing coaches, that things were not progressing the way we wanted, so that hard decision was made. That came initially from management. It would have been easy to ignore, to say let’s leave it for another year or six months and let the contract run its course, but we didn’t. That is what I call managing the business,” Edwards told Fairfax Media in England.

He said Sutherland had trusted team management to deal with the India fiasco on the ground. ”That was a difficult time, no question, and it’s in those circumstances that the stress levels rise and issues that exist burst forth. That is what happened. We all wish that hadn’t happened, but it did happen. There are probably still issues there to be

resolved. We will see how the new coach and new structure works.”

”In hindsight you can always do things better, but at the time it was a fast-moving issue and management and the board grappled with it as best we could with the information we had. We did what we thought was right at the time and backed management on the ground.”

Asked if Sutherland had the support of the board, Edwards said: ”Absolutely, without question. We are very comfortable with the way things are tracking at that level.”

Sutherland had been armed with powers to do anything it took to bring a solution to the disharmony and ill-discipline that had been dogging the Australian team along with poor on-field performance.

Fairfax Media understands that members of the Cricket Australia board and other senior staff even discussed whether more players had to be sanctioned for the debacle, even questioning at one point two weeks ago whether sending particular squad members home was a viable option.

These conversations never reached to the point where that was a serious alternative – Arthur ended up being the fall guy with his sacking announced on Monday – but the CA hierarchy had become disturbed and disappointed at the state of affairs.

Sutherland has made little secret of his anger not only at the conduct of David Warner, who was fined and suspended for punching England’s Joe Root in a Birmingham nightclub this month, but at the fact six players were out until 2.30am after a woeful loss to England in the Champions Trophy.

There has also been top-level concern about former vice-captain Shane Watson’s place in the team and his relationship with captain Michael Clarke.

The team’s performance on and off the field in India so alarmed the board that the behaviour of Clarke’s men was discussed at length at their past two meetings, including one in May.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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