Pay negotiator in box seat to be CA boss

Rob Forsaith

Cricket Australia chief operating officer Kevin Roberts, who infuriated and offended players in last year's ugly pay dispute, looms as the frontrunner to be James Sutherland's successor.

CA has engaged Egon Zehnder, a firm specialising in executive recruitment, to conduct a global search for its next chief executive.

But the selected candidate is likely to come from CA's Jolimont headquarters, with Roberts widely expected to be entrusted with the responsibility that was Sutherland's for 17 years.

The timeframe for the search is yet to be determined. Sutherland has given 12 months' notice but it's understood he and CA are keen to have a successor settled in before summer starts.

The governing body promoted Roberts to the newly-created role of chief operating officer last month, recognising he had effectively served as Sutherland's deputy for almost a year.

CA chairman David Peever vowed on Wednesday to conduct a thorough search for the right person but admitted there would be a natural bias towards an Australian who is also "someone in cricket".

Roberts played first-class cricket, like Sutherland, while he sat on CA's board before joining its executive in 2015.

Most modern-day players know Roberts best as CA's lead negotiator in stalled pay talks, when he unsuccessfully campaigned for the end of revenue sharing.

Roberts fronted the video that CA released while players were travelling on a bus to a ground in England during the Champions Trophy.

The sport's most valuable assets were shocked by the nature and timing of the video. Many players felt Roberts was being incredibly patronising while attempting to explain CA's hardline stance.

"It is quite disappointing ... if CA wants us to win I don't think they would be releasing videos like that," David Warner said at the time.

Peever, who will serve another term as chairman, remains a fan of Roberts' work.

"We had an extremely competent person in Kevin Roberts leading from our side," Peever told reporters last year after the pay scrap ended.

Former national captain Belinda Clark, now head of community cricket, and Anthony Everard, instrumental in transforming the Big Bash League from a concept into a colossus, are among the other members of CA's executive who could potentially be promoted.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg, a former first-grade batsman in Sydney who started his professional life as Cricket NSW's events and promotions manger, went close to becoming Cricket NSW's chief executive some five years ago and could be tempted to pursue the CA gig.

Football Federation Australia boss David Gallop has previously been linked to the position.

"This is an incredibly complex job," Peever said.

"I'm sure there will be very good candidates from within cricket and outside cricket."