Tom Harrison resigns as ECB chief executive as English cricket rebuild continues

·2-min read
Tom Harrison (AFP via Getty Images)
Tom Harrison (AFP via Getty Images)

Tom Harrison, the chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board, has announced that he is stepping down after seven years in the role.

Clare Connor, the former England captain who already holds a number of roles with the ECB, MCC and ICC, takes over on an interim basis while a new CEO is located.

Harrison’s departure had been expected for some time, and he becomes the latest senior figure to leave the governing body this year.

After the Ashes, managing director of men’s cricket Ashley Giles and head coach Chris Silverwood were fired, before Joe Root resigned as Test captain.

The ECB have also been conducting an increasingly farcical search to locate a new chair, after Ian Watmore resigned in October.

Barry O’Brien, who was in place as interim chair, resigned last month due to ill health, with Martin Darlow assuming the role. Richard Thompson, the Surrey chair, now appears favourite for the part-time, well-paid role.

Other names linked to the role are Sir Andrew Strauss, who is an advisor to the Board and former Test captain and director of cricket. But his candidacy appears far less likely now Ron Kalifa, the businessman and Board member, decided he no longer wanted to be chair.

Harrison’s time in charge has been particularly tumultuous. Arriving with a background in rights, he secured a major broadcast deal for the English game, which included the return of cricket to terrestrial TV for the first time since 2005, with the BBC. He also led cricket’s response to the pandemic, keeping the show on the road.

There have, however, been controversies. At a time when white-ball cricket has surged forward, the launch of the Hundred remains a divisive matter, despite a broadly successful first season, while racism in the game was exposed by Azeem Rafiq’s allegations of his experience at Yorkshire.

Most recently, Harrison and other senior ECB executives took six-figure “long-term incentive payments” despite the financial issues dogging the game.

“It has been a huge honour to be CEO of the ECB for the past seven years,” said Harrison. “Cricket is an extraordinary force for good in the world and my goal has been to make the game bigger and ensure more people and more communities in England and Wales feel they have a place in this sport. The long-term health of cricket depends on its ability to grow and remain relevant and be more inclusive in an ever-changing world.

“The past two years have been incredibly challenging, but we have pulled together to get through the pandemic, overcome cricket’s biggest financial crisis, and committed to tackling discrimination and continuing the journey towards becoming the inclusive, welcoming sport we strive to be. I have put everything into this role, but I believe now is the right time to bring in fresh energy to continue this work.”

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