CRICKET Australia chief executive James Sutherland said that while he is pleased Test cricket is strong in Australia, it is imperative that the other forms of the game grow.
The game’s boss said that while his organisation’s performance is judged by how well the team performs at the five-day game it has a wider duty of care to cricket in the country.
Sutherland pointed out that the much derided Twenty20 format was immeasurably more popular than Shield cricket and was an important element in ensuring that cricket remained Australia’s number one sport.
Speaking at the inaugural World Cricket Business Forum in London, he said that Test cricket was cricket in its purist form and was an absolute focus for Cricket Australia.
“Alarm bells ring when you watch Test games elsewhere and see empty stands,” he said. “But we are in the fortunate position that Tests are well supported by the Australian public.
“The Test rivalry between Australia and England is very strong and will never go away and Australia’s rivalry with a number of other countries is growing strongly.
“Australia’s cricket success tends to be measured by its Test performance but CA also needs to keep developing ODI and T20 cricket to ensure cricket remains popular and sustainable in Australia. We are trying to be Australia’s favourite sport and that means being a sport for all Australians, not just Test fans.”
Sutherland recently got board approval for a four-year strategy to grow the game at all levels.
He pointed out that the Big Bash in recent years had attracted average crowds of about 15,000 people.
“That’s about 15,000 more than we normally see at state cricket, and it’s a new audience, with families and kids,” he said.
Sutherland also used the forum to call for a reworking of the contract system so that a greater percentage of player payments might need to be allocated to Test cricket.
Cricket Australia also denied a report in The Australian yesterday that it had spoken to Steve Rixon about the head coach’s role. The organisation is in the process of recruiting for the newly created roles of general manager team performance and national selector and will not move on the coaching role until they are finished.
Rixon also denies saying he was approached for the position.
“Cricket Australia has to date only advertised the GM team performance manager role and the national selector roles,” a spokesman said. “The GM team performance will be involved in the search for the head coach, once he or she is appointed. Contrary to recent media reports, Michael Brown has not spoken to Steve Rixon about the head coach role.”
- Peter Lalor in Colombo
- From: The Australian
- September 15, 2011 12:00AM