Andrew Strauss emerges as surprise candidate to be new ECB chairman

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Andrew Strauss England - DAVID ROSE
Andrew Strauss England - DAVID ROSE

Sir Andrew Strauss has emerged as a surprise candidate to be the new chairman of the England & Wales Cricket gathering the support of senior figures within the governing body and county network.

Telegraph Sport understands support is mounting behind Strauss’s candidacy as English cricket faces some tough decisions over the structure of first-class cricket following another poor Ashes tour.

Strauss has the cricket credibility to carry through change and lead difficult discussions with the counties over the schedule with Tom Harrison, the chief executive, this week describing the Ashes debacle as the ideal opportunity for a "reset" that puts the priority back on red ball cricket.

The ECB has been without a full time chairman since Ian Watmore was removed from office last October, 13 months into a five-year contract, over his handling of the postponed Pakistan tour and failure to give leadership over the structure of the domestic schedule.

Richard Thompson, the influential chairman of Surrey, has been linked with the job and is the leading candidate from among the counties but his previous opposition to the Hundred would be a difficult obstacle for him to overcome given its importance to Sky and the BBC. Sky have already reopened negotiations with the ECB over renewing their broadcast deal two years earlier than planned such was the success for them of the Hundred in its first year. Telegraph Sport revealed this week that a ten year deal is a possibility.

Strauss is currently chairman of the ECB’s cricket committee and attends board meetings in a non-voting capacity. Harrison this week admitted the board of directors needs more people with experience of high level professional cricket.

The chairmanship is a fully paid role worth around £150,000 per year plus expenses. Strauss stood down as England’s team director in 2018 to help look after his late wife. Since then he has set up the Ruth Strauss foundation and worked as consultant for the Rajasthan Royals, as well as chaired the ECB cricket committee.

Strauss will review the end of tour Ashes report currently being compiled by Ashley Giles and performance director Mo Bobat, and has been in Australia to see at first hand how the tour has been handled.

Harrison has travelled with the team since the start of the Test series and revealed on Saturday he has been in talks with Cricket Australia over arranging for English county players to be posted with Sheffield Shield teams in the two years before an Ashes tour to give them experience of playing on Australian pitches.

“The reality is we need to be spending a lot more time with players in Australian conditions. I've had a number of conversations with Cricket Australia and have written formally to Cricket Australia to ask if they would consider allowing us to put players into Sheffield Shield cricket, for example, as one significant change that we can bring to bear,” he told the BBC.

"We've had to cancel a lot of individual player preparation plans - which would have involved time in Australia - due to the [Covid] pandemic, because effectively, Australia has been closed, and a number of other tours that were planned to enable us to get in better shape for this tour have had to be shelved."

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