Outgoing Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland has revealed his regret over the Newlands ball-tampering affair and concedes that some of the damage in the aftermath could have been avoided had he intervened earlier.
Sutherland famously turned off his television at his Melbourne home before the broadcast showed evidence that Bancroft had used a foreign object – later revealed to be sandpaper – to attempt to alter the ball’s condition.
It meant that the administrator was unaware of the players’ attempt to weather the storm by not revealing the whole truth during a press conference, claiming it was tape rather than sandpaper and insisting the “leadership group” devised the plan, rather than Warner, the vice-captain. All three were subsequently banned via the CA code of conduct, Smith and Warner for twelve months, and Bancroft nine.
“At a guess it would’ve been about midnight I suppose [that I turned the TV off] but, yeah, I wish I was watching, absolutely. It was a serious WTF moment there,” Sutherland told ESPNcricinfo on his last day in the role. “I’d like to think that my judgment 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.
“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”
Sutherland said that he had previously warned captain Smith and coach Darren Lehmann over the team’s conduct, so felt “heartbroken” and betrayed by the events in Cape Town.
“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,” Sutherland added.
“[But] 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.