MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) " Rod Marsh quit as chairman of selectors on Wednesday in the wake of Australia's fifth consecutive test loss, bringing forward his retirement by six months.
Australia was ranked No. 1 in the test format before being swept 3-0 in Sri Lanka in July and August and has now surrendered a three-test series at home to South Africa with a match to spare.
Australia's brittle batting was exposed in the first two losses " by 177 runs at Perth and by an innings and 80 runs in Hobart, where the depth and technical flaws were obvious as Australia was dismissed for 85 in the first innings and lost its last eight wickets for 32 runs in the second innings on Tuesday.
The tenures of the national selectors, coach Darren Lehmann, Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland and high-performance manager Pat Howard have all been under intense scrutiny as Australia slumped to one of its worst losing streaks. Sutherland had backed Marsh earlier Wednesday, saying the ex-test wicketkeeper would see out his contract until mid-2017.
There'll undoubtedly be changes in the playing personnel, yet Marsh was the first casualty of the loss.
"This is my own decision and no one within Cricket Australia has pressured me or even suggested that I should do this," Marsh said in a statement released by Cricket Australia. "Clearly, though, it is time for some fresh thinking, just as it is for our test team to welcome some new faces as we build for the future.
"I have always had the best interests of Australian cricket foremost in my heart, and that's why I have made this decision."
Cricket Australia planned to appoint an interim chief selector for the remaining test against South Africa, starting Nov. 24 in Adelaide, and for the three-test series against Pakistan starting Dec. 15.
Marsh was appointed chief selector in May 2014, replacing John Inverarity. He was previously Cricket Australia's manager of elite coaching development, head of the Australian Cricket Academy from 1990-2001, and worked for the England and Wales Cricket Board as director of its academy and later as a selector.
Cricket Australia chairman David Peever said Marsh played a pivotal role in helping Australia reach the No. 1 rankings in test and limited-overs cricket.
"We understand this decision has not come easily for Rod and on behalf of Australian cricket we thank him for his leadership and the integrity and insight he brought to the role throughout his tenure and the lifelong commitment he has given to our sport," Peever said.
Marsh remains one of the greats of Australian cricket, and kept wickets in an era featuring the legendary fast bowlers Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson.
In a test career spanning 1970-84, Marsh completed 355 dismissals " a then record for a test wicketkeeper.
This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings