Cricket Australia chief Sutherland to step down

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland

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James Sutherland says his decision was not affected by a ball-tampering scandal

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland has announced that he will step down.

Mr Sutherland said the “time is right” for him to depart his position, which he has held for 17 years.

He denied that his resignation had been hastened by a ball-tampering scandal that has rocked Australia and prompted the suspensions of three players, including former captain Steve Smith.

Mr Sutherland will stay on for up to 12 months until his replacement is found.

“I feel very comfortable that this is the right time for me and a good time for the game,” he said on Wednesday.

“It is something that I have been thinking about for a long time. We have had some big, big things to deal with over the course of the last 12 months.”

During his tenure, Mr Sutherland oversaw the introduction of day-night Test matches and the highly successful Twenty20 series Big Bash League.

Among recent achievements, he cited a new strategy for Australian cricket, a lucrative television rights deal and a pay agreement for male and female cricketers.

Year of turmoil

In recent times, however, Mr Sutherland also presided over arguably Australian cricket’s most tumultuous period.

The pay agreement in 2017 descended into a messy dispute that saw cricketers threatening to boycott matches.

He also faced scrutiny over his response to the ball-tampering scandal at a Test match in South Africa in March.

Smith, former vice-captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft were given lengthy suspensions for the tampering, a ploy to give the team’s bowlers an advantage.

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Media captionAustralians ’embarrassed’ by ball-tampering scandal

Coach Darren Lehmann also stood down after the incident, despite being cleared of wrongdoing.

Some observers had suggested that Mr Sutherland was slow to respond to the crisis, and that as chief executive he should also accept blame for team culture.

But he was strongly defended by Cricket Australia’s board at the time, which expressed full confidence in his actions.

Mr Sutherland, a former accountant and first-class player, joined Cricket Australia in 1998.

Cricket Australia chairman David Peever said Mr Sutherland had been “instrumental in driving change around the game”.

“When he leaves the game, he can most certainly say it’s much stronger for him having been here,” Mr Peever said on Wednesday.

The unheralded story of Australia's indigenous cricketers

Australian cricketer Nick Boland

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Nick Boland will be part of a tour by two indigenous cricket teams to the UK next month

When cricketer Nick Boland walks out at Arundel Castle next month, he will be wearing the Aboriginal flag on his sleeve and the name of another player on his back.

That player, Grongarrong, was a batsman in Australia’s first international sporting side – an indigenous cricket team that toured England in 1868.

The 13 Aboriginal players who went on the tour deserve to be better acknowledged today as pioneers, according to Australian cricketers and officials.

“It’s a story that hasn’t been told enough,” Mr Boland tells the BBC.

He is part of an indigenous men’s team that, along with a women’s side, will travel to the UK in June to play in a commemorative tour 150 years on.

“Our roles as players in the legacy of this tour is to become the next generation of storytellers,” he says.

‘Colonial circus’

The 1868 team was made up of Jardwadjali, Gunditjmara and Wotjobaluk men from what is now the state of Victoria.

Having played a few games in Australia, they were brought to London by a former first-class cricketer, Charles Lawrence, an expat who had been living in Sydney.

Modern views of the 19th Century tour are complex. Although remembered as a landmark event, the tour has also been criticised as racist and exploitative.

The tour was organised “purely for money-making purposes”, according to Greg de Moore, an author who has researched the tour.

“Here [spectators] were watching what many saw as savages – some sort of zoological curiosity – playing the most imperial and English game of cricket, and playing it very well,” Dr de Moore says.

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The 1868 cricket team was Australia’s first international sporting side

“It would have been a very disturbing realisation to many colonialists that perhaps if given the same opportunities, Aboriginal people could perform as well as Europeans.

“On the cricket field, [the players] were able to prove themselves and reach a sort of equality they couldn’t achieve beyond the boundaries of the field.”

The players were given accommodation, food and a small wage, but they were pushed to their physical limits. Over an arduous four-month schedule, the side played 47 matches for 14 wins, 14 losses and 19 draws.

Dr de Moore says the players also performed a “colonial circus” of boomerang throwing, whip tricks and other examples of athleticism.

Tragically one player, Bripumyarrumin, died mid-tour from tuberculosis and pneumonia.

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Though press coverage of the tour was not uniform, some newspaper reports used it to call for better treatment of Aboriginal people. This even included discussion of issues such as land rights in Australia, Dr de Moore says.

But he says the tour had a “tremendously dislocating effect” on the players when they returned home. “If you could compare it, for us, it would be like a trip to Jupiter,” he says.

‘Mixed emotions’

Sally Moylan, who will be part of the tour next month, says she has “mixed emotions” about the events of 1868.

But she says she feels proud to help honour players she regards as “phenomenal heroes”.

“I feel like it’s my cultural responsibility. I’ve got this opportunity so hopefully I can make the most of it and then set up for other people to follow,” she tells the BBC.

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Scott Boland and Ashleigh Gardner will be on the tour next month

Some matches will take place at ground that were used in 1868.

“I guess a few emotions will probably come out when when I step foot on those same grounds and picture what they endured,” Moylan says. “If we can be half the players they were back then, we’ll be doing all right.

Connecting with the past

In 1869 Victoria enacted laws that gave the colony sweeping controls over the lives of indigenous people, including rules that restricted travel. It prevented any chance of a second overseas tour.

In the century following, cricket languished behind other sports for indigenous participation. The story of the first tour, meanwhile, became largely forgotten.

Cricket Australia hopes a renewed focus on the tour will boost the sport’s appeal among indigenous people. It says participation levels among Aboriginal Australians have already risen by 50% since 2015, following other efforts to raise cricket’s profile.

“While we will never hide from the controversy of the times, it doesn’t take anything away from the incredible achievements of the [1868] team,” Cricket Australia says.

“This tour is about elevating the profiles of those players to the status that they deserve. They were true pioneers, not just for cricket but for Australian sport.”

Nick Boland says that he and his brother, Scott – a fellow team member – only found out in recent years that they have Aboriginal ancestry.

“So for me to go over there, it’s a great learning opportunity to further connect with the story of 1868,” he says.

“I want to share that with not only my family and mob, but with the future generation as well.”

TalkSport take overseas cricket rights from BBC

England's Mark Stoneman batting against New Zealand in March

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England’s Mark Stoneman batting against New Zealand in March

The BBC has lost the rights to cover England’s upcoming cricket tours of Sri Lanka and the West Indies on radio to commercial broadcaster TalkSport.

It is the first time since 2005 that the BBC’s Test Match Special has lost the rights to an England overseas tour.

“I know our loyal @bbctms listeners will be very disappointed,” wrote commentator Jonathan Agnew on Twitter.

Scott Taunton, CEO of TalkSport owner Wireless Group, said winning the rights was “a great victory” for the station.

“I’m delighted that we will be with England fans for every ball of the day throughout these winter tours,” he added.

The free to air rights cover the Tests, one-day internationals (ODIs) and T20s for the tours that start in Sri Lanka in October and the West Indies in early 2019.

Test Match Special will, however, continue to broadcast England’s home summer series through to 2024.

A deal agreed last year will also see domestic and international cricket shown live on BBC television from 2020.

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“Aggers” said he hoped he could “still provide news coverage” about the tours

Many cricket fans have reacted with dismay to Agnew’s retweet of TalkSport’s announcement, with one calling it “a national disgrace”.

“This is literally the worst thing I have ever read on Twitter,” wrote another.

Yet some fans have been more moderate, with one calling on listeners to “give TS [TalkSport] a chance before passing judgement.”

In his own post, Aggers, as he’s known, stressed the decision was made by the Sri Lankan and West Indies cricket boards and not the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board).

TalkSport’s cricket coup follows News Corp’s 2016 purchase of its parent company in a £220m deal.

In a statement, the BBC said: “We put forward a competitive bid for these tours but it was unsuccessful on this occasion.

“We’re disappointed because we know how much cricket fans value our coverage. We are still the home of cricket on the radio, as we demonstrated during the Ashes last winter.

“This summer, all England’s matches will be live on Test Match Special, and we have a long term deal for all England’s home internationals through to 2024 as well as rights to the next three Ashes series, both home and away.”

The ECB declined to comment on the decision.

Analysis by Amol Rajan, BBC media editor

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England’s Joe Root during a recent Test Match against New Zealand

For devotees of Test Match Special – an international club comprising hundreds of thousands of people, if not more – the sound of Jonathan Agnew and his colleagues isn’t just part of summer. It is the summer. That is why today’s news has caused shock and dismay. Fans need to be aware it could be a harbinger.

Read more of Amol’s blog here.

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email

IPL matches moved out of Chennai following protests

Scene from an Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders.

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The Chennai Super Kings will not play their home games in the city

Cricket officials say the southern city of Chennai (formerly Madras) will not host Indian Premier League (IPL) matches due to security concerns.

The move comes after protests took place outside the Chepauk stadium during Chennai Super Kings’ first home game on Tuesday.

The protesters in Tamil Nadu are angry over a water-sharing dispute with neighbouring Karnataka state.

The IPL is considered to be the world’s showcase for Twenty20 cricket.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India hasn’t announced a new venue for the Super Kings’ home games.

Top Indian and international players take part in the annual tournament, making it one of the world’s most-watched and richest cricket tournaments.

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Cricket officials initially resisted calls to move the matches out of Chennai but agreed after Tuesday’s protests.

“We had little option really. We did not want to deny the cricket fans of Tamil Nadu, the opportunity to support their team and savour the cricket but the local police were not willing to provide us adequate security,” IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla told The Hindu newspaper.

Local media reported that two protesters threw a shoe on the ground during Tuesday’s game.

And a Tamil group has threatened to release snakes on the ground if the Super Kings played more matches in Chennai.

The decision has disappointed the players.

The matches in Chennai were expected to draw huge crowds as the home team returned to the IPL after a two-year suspension due to a corruption scandal.

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On Tuesday, during the first match in Chennai, protesters gathered outside the stadium despite tight security.

On Monday, Tamil Nadu political parties had called for the matches to be cancelled amid escalating tensions with Karnataka.

There have been multiple protests over the Cauvery river, which Tamil Nadu and its neighbouring state Karnataka have staked a claim to. The dispute over sharing water dates to the 19th Century during British rule.

Iceland to play its first cricket international

Icelandic cricketers playing on a snowy pitch

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Iceland Cricket

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This pitch is unlikely to suit fast bowlers, which is just as well given the poor light

Iceland’s cricket board has announced that its national team is embarking on a tour in which the country will play its first ever international match.

A press release from Krikketsamband Islands (Icelandic Cricket Board) says that the squad will play four matches in England this July, including two against another unlikely cricketing nation – Switzerland.

English national pride will also be at stake when the tourists face an MCC XI at Hampton Hill in south-west London on 24 July.

“Since cricket came to Iceland in 1999, the sport has been growing steadily,” the Sport360 website quoted Krikketsamband Islands chairman Jakob Robertson as saying.

“We’ve worked really hard to organise our first international fixture, and we are beside ourselves with excitement in anticipation of the tour,” he said.

According to Sport360, Iceland is now hoping to join the European Cricket Council, with ambitions to match Switzerland’s status as affiliate members of the International Cricket Council – the sport’s global governing body.

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The Reykjavik Vikings are one of Iceland’s two cricket teams

World Cup by 2025?

In a 2003 BBC feature on the burgeoning Icelandic cricket scene, Test Match Special commentator Henry Blofeld, forecast that they could be challenging for a place in the World Cup within 20 years.

“All these things come from small beginnings,” Blowers said at the time, “but there is a real keenness”.

That’s something which is already happening in football, where Iceland’s national team has qualified for its first ever FIFA World Cup finals. In 2016, Iceland embarrassed England in football’s European Championships, knocking them out in the second round.

There are currently only two teams in Iceland – the Reykjavík Vikings and Kópavogur Puffins, with expatriate players in the majority.

Their latest match, held last week as part of their domestic cup series, ended in a crushing seven wicket victory for the Puffins after the Vikings were skittled out for 64 runs after their batsmen failed to cope with Puffin spin tactics.

Reporting by Alistair Coleman

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Car keys and black clothing banned from IPL match

Chennai Super Kings flag

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The match is expected to draw huge crowds as the Chennai team returns to the Indian Premier League after a two-year break

The long list of banned items ahead of a much anticipated cricket game in India’s southern city of Chennai has prompted ridicule online.

Car keys, banners, flags, black clothing, water bottles, food and bags will not be allowed.

The restrictions are in response to recent protests over a water-sharing dispute with a neighbouring state.

The match is expected to draw huge crowds as Chennai’s team returns to the IPL after a two-year break.

The Indian Premier League is considered to be the world’s showcase for Twenty20 cricket.

Top Indian and international players take part, making it one of the world’s most-watched cricket tournaments.

Around 4,000 police have been deployed to the Chepauk stadium, where Chennai Super Kings will play against the Kolkata Knight Riders on Tuesday evening.

All roads leading to the stadium have been blocked by authorities, with no vehicles allowed.

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But the long list of banned items drew amusement and ire of many fans online:

On Monday, political parties had called for the match to be cancelled amid escalating tension in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, of which Chennai is the capital.

There have been multiple protests over the Cauvery river, which Tamil Nadu and its neighbouring state Karnataka have staked a claim to. The dispute over sharing water dates to the 19th Century during British rule.

But IPL chairman, Rajeev Shukla, told local media that the games scheduled in the city would not be affected.

“Adequate security measures have been taken. The IPL should not be dragged into political controversies,” he said.

The Chennai Super Kings will be playing three more matches in the city’s Chepauk stadium this month.