October 25, 2018 / 3:21 PM / a year ago

Cricket: Outgoing Cricket Australia CEO reveals 'Sandpaper-gate' regret

(Reuters) - Outgoing Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland regrets not being able to intervene earlier in the infamous ball-tampering incident in Cape Town, saying the fallout from the scandal may have been less had he not turned off his television.

FILE PHOTO: Cricket Australia Chief Executive Officer (CEO) James Sutherland reacts as he talks during a media conference at the WACA Ground in Perth, Australia, November 4, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

Sutherland was watching the match between South Africa and Australian in his Melbourne home but turned off the television before images of Cameron Bancroft using a foreign object to alter the condition of the ball appeared on the screen.

The object was later revealed to be sandpaper and Bancroft, the team’s skipper Steve Smith and his vice captain David Warner were handed lengthy bans for their roles in the scandal during the third test in Cape Town on March 14.

"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, Sutherland said in an interview with ESPN Cricinfo here

In a news conference after the incident Bancroft, accompanied by Smith, claimed they had used yellow adhesive tape to which dirt had adhered, rather than sandpaper to tamper with the ball’s condition.

Sutherland said he would have advised differently had he been in possession of the facts.

“I’d like to think that my judgement and possibly influence would have meant that the media conference would have gone slightly differently,” he added.

“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.”

The 53-year-old said he had been left “heartbroken” by how things had played out but that the scandal would serve as a reminder to current and future generations of players of their responsibilities on and off the pitch.

“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 said.

“(But)... in some ways the issues of Cape Town were a different thing altogether, it wasn’t necessarily a confrontation between two players.

“I said from the outset the game will be better for this... players are committed to seeing Australians being proud of the Australian cricket team and the players and how they carry themselves on and off the field.”

Kevin Roberts has replaced Sutherland as chief executive of Cricket Australia.

Roberts, 46, was the face of Cricket Australia during toxic negotiations for a new pay deal with players and served as Sutherland’s deputy for a number of years since joining the CA board as an independent director in 2012.

Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; editing by Martyn Herman

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