London: A turbulent period for English cricket saw another high-profile departure among its leadership on Tuesday when chief executive Tom Harrison announced he will be stepping down.
Since the turn of the year, the men’s Test captain, head coach, director of cricket and now the CEO have all left their roles as the England and Wales Cricket Board launches a so-called ‘‘red-ball reset’’ amid troubling times for the Test team.
Harrison has faced some of the blame for that, having prioritized the shorter formats of the game in search of greater revenue streams during his more than seven years as chief executive. That included being a key driver behind the introduction of the Hundred, a new competition created to broaden the audience of the sport and placed at the heart of the British summer - perhaps to the detriment of Test cricket.
Harrison, who joined the ECB from sports marketing giant IMG in January 2015, had to navigate English cricket through a pandemic that created unprecedented financial challenges and then a racism scandal sparked by complaints by former player Azeem Rafiq.
The ECB said in a statement announcing Harrison’s departure next month that a ‘‘key part’’ of the role for his replacement will be making cricket ‘‘a welcoming and diverse sport, including through the continued implementation of the action plan agreed in November 2021 to drive out discrimination within the game.’’
Clare Connor, who is currently managing director of women’s cricket in England, will replace Harrison on an interim basis.
The ECB said its annual revenue almost tripled during Harrison’s tenure.
‘‘The past two years have been incredibly challenging,” Harrison said, “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.’’