With the resignation of England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive Tom Harrison yesterday, yet another chasm appeared in the national set-up.
Though current managing director of women’s cricket Clare Connor will take over the responsibilities on an interim basis, the governing body in charge of England’s international and domestic game will eventually need to wade their way through an ever-increasing list of urgent priorities to repair the integrity – both on and off the field – damaged in recent years.
Performance is Key
On the field, England’s men are on a humiliating run of one win in 17 Test matches while the women’s team – despite a remarkable run to the World Cup final – were thrashed in the Ashes.
Key to success will be improvements on the field. The men’s side have a new Test coach in Brendon McCullum and captain in Ben Stokes, whose first Test squad is named today.
Off the field, a protracted search for a new ECB chair remains ongoing and, with Harrison set to depart next month, a new chief executive will urgently need to be sought.
For those new appointments, whenever they come, there will be a huge onus on delivering meaningful change and installing new processes following the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal, which caused major ructions and led to widespread departures across the game.
The controversy led to MPs demanding visible change in the organisation and the new chief executive will need to implement the ECB’s 10-point plan, which aims to tackle not only discrimination but the processes of reporting it when it happens.
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has floated the idea of an independent regulator for the sport, too, in a move similar to the one looming for football.
Though this regulator would have different priorities, the threat of government intervention should be enough for the ECB to drive change throughout the organisation and wider game.
And once the ECB can say it’s cleaned up its act, it will then be posed with the small challenge of restructuring or reforming the domestic game in England and Wales.
Many have said that the calendar – which features domestic versions of the three traditional cricket formats, as well as The Hundred – is far too congested and diminishes the quality of players who represent England at the highest level.
The steady and consistent flow of injuries to bowlers, the inability to produce pitches which replicate international creases and the sheer fatigue involved in the game need to be addressed too.
So as Connor sits in her new office as interim chief executive of the ECB, she will surely be keen to find a permanent replacement for a role with so many urgent priorities.
And were she to retain the role herself, then the task she’d be taking on would be unenviable to say the least. The ECB is in a hole, and there’s no quick fix.