The England and Wales Cricket Board has been plunged into new turmoil with the sudden resignation of chief executive Tom Harrison as part of a major overhaul following a slump in test results.
Since the turn of the year, men’s cricket director Ashley Giles, head coach Chris Silverwood and Test captain Joe Root have all been replaced, while the ECB presidency is also currently vacant.
Clare Connor, currently general manager of England women’s cricket, will take over on an interim basis, the ECB announced on Tuesday.
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Harrisons’ resignation came on the eve of the ECB’s AGM in Lords.
Connor now has to put out a number of fires with the latest turmoil at the ECB, fueling anger among the provinces, who feel there is a governance crisis at the organization.
The provinces threaten to form their own escape, while the British government in anger threatens the ECB with an independent regulator.
The provinces are not happy. The inevitable conclusion is to tell the recreational game that the 18 provinces are seceding, a senior provincial source told Telegraph Sports† Nobody wants that. We should be able to control our game, but the current constitution makes it extremely difficult to do so.
The provinces are also reportedly concerned about the lack of cricket experience on the ECB’s board, to which they lost two seats in 2018 when a fully independent board was introduced.
It now features only one person Lucy Pearson who has played international cricket.
A top-ranking county side chief told the publication: English cricket is undoubtedly chaotic at the moment and this will no doubt add to the chaos.
There’s a ton of shit that any new person would have to deal with.
Harrison was a largely unpopular figure in the English game among purists, not least because he neglected the red ball game, while senior executives received huge bonuses worth 2.1 million for the creation of The Hundred.
In a commentary for the British Telegraphwrote Simon Heffer: There will be a palpable sense of relief among cricket-loving people that Tom Harrison… is leaving earlier than expected.
Harrison’s method of making the game bigger was not to attract more people to share in its traditional excellence and values, but to drag booze-soaked young men onto the grounds in the early evening to watch The Hundred, the abortion of a version of cricket whose birth he presided over…
… he drove several nails into the coffin of first-class and test cricket, lost the trust of several key provincial administrators and is engaged (with the active help of many in the club’s leadership) a moral and strategic disaster at MCC, leaving the ECB serious and unfortunate has conflicts of interest.
In a separate opinion piece for innewsChris Stocks labeled Harrisons’ reign as disastrous, telling him to behave well.
There is no doubt that Harrison had the best intentions for English cricket when he took over his role in 2014. Still, you can’t argue that he left it in a better place, Stocks wrote.
His legacy will be a sport more divisive than ever, with the Hundred, Harrisons baby causing the kind of toxic culture war in cricket that has tainted so much of everyday life in this country.
The Hundred, a league that alienates existing fans and won’t turn a profit for years, is the English crickets Brexit.
Harrison, who took on his role in 2015, saw England win both the men’s and women’s 50-over World Cups during his tenure, but the nation plunged dramatically into the red ball game.
Last summer England suffered a weak 4-0 defeat to the Ashes men, while the ladies were also whitewashed.
The men’s hammering was the final straw with some changes raging through the English set-up.
Root waned last month after Englands 1-0 defeat in the West Indies, which left them with a miserable record of just one win in 17 Tests, and has been replaced by all-rounder Ben Stokes.
Former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum was named coach last week, while former England batsman Rob Key is the new general manager.
Harrison had also faced calls to quit over the ECB’s handling of a racism scandal that came to light last year.
The 50-year-old said it was a huge honor to serve as chief executive.
Cricket is an extraordinary force for good in the world and my aim was to make the game bigger and make sure more people and more communities in England and Wales feel they have a place in this sport, he said.
The long-term health of cricket depends on its ability to grow and remain relevant and inclusive in an ever-changing world. Martin Darlow, interim ECB president, said: When the (coronavirus) pandemic hit, it was Tom’s leadership that brought the game together and saved us from the worst financial crisis the sport has ever faced.
He has always put the interests of the game first and has worked to lead significant changes to make our game more accessible and inclusive, although we all know there is still a lot more work to be done
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