Tom Harrison steps down as ECB chief executive


Tom Harrison will step down as chief executive of the ECB next month after seven-and-a-half years in the post.

Clare Connor, the managing director of women’s cricket and president of the MCC, has been lined up as an interim replacement when Harrison’s tenure ends in June.

Harrison was appointed in October 2014, starting full-time the following January, having held senior executive positions at IMG in Singapore and ESPN STAR Sports. Born in England, he was brought up in South Africa but returned to the UK aged 14, and had a brief first-class cricket career with Derbyshire and Northamptonshire.

He has been a controversial figure for much of his tenure. He oversaw the introduction of the Hundred, which belatedly launched last summer, and while the £1.1 billion television rights deal he negotiated in 2017 has seen the ECB’s revenue grow significantly, their reserves have been depleted.

He has also had to deal with the racism crisis that has engulfed the English game over the last two years, regularly giving evidence to DCMS (Department of digital, culture, media and sport) select committees, and oversaw the sport’s response to the 2020 pandemic, including the staging of England men’s full international summer programme behind closed doors in bio-secure environments.

Partly as a consequence of the financial hit that the ECB took during Covid, the organisation had to lay off 20% of its workforce in the autumn of 2020, although following the commercial success of the first season of the Hundred, Harrison and his fellow senior executives were in line to share a £2.1 million bonus pot – a situation that attracted widespread criticism. Notably, there was no mention of the Hundred in Harrison’s leaving statement.

“It has been a huge honour to be CEO of the ECB for the past seven years,” Harrison said. “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.”

Harrison is the latest man to leave a position of power at the ECB in recent months with the men’s team losing its managing director, head coach, assistant coach and captain over the winter and the role of chair still vacant following Ian Watmore’s departure in October.

Rob Key filled the vacant director’s role last month, following the sacking of Ashley Giles in the wake of the Ashes, while Brendon McCullum was last week named as England’s new Test coach, taking over from Chris Silverwood, and will partner with Ben Stokes, the new captain, for the first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s, starting on June 2. Matthew Mott, the Australia women’s head coach, is expected to be unveiled as the new white-ball coach this week.

Martin Darlow, the ECB interim chair, said: “Tom has been an outstanding CEO and deserves our sincere thanks for all he has achieved in his time at the ECB. Through the Inspiring Generations strategy, he has set the game on a path to growth and to being played and watched by more people from all backgrounds, underpinned by record investment in cricket.

“When the pandemic struck, 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 worked to lead important change to make our game more accessible and inclusive, though we all know there is still much more work to do.

“We will now begin the search for his successor who can build on all that he has achieved. I’m pleased that Clare Connor has agreed to step into the role on an interim basis while this process is under way.”

The ECB Board has appointed executive search firm Spencer Stuart to lead the search for a new chief executive, with the role expected to be advertised shortly.


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