Downton out as ECB scraps MD role

Published: Thursday 9th April 2015 by The News Editor

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The ramifications of Paul Downton losing his job as managing director of the England and Wales Cricket Board will be discussed today at a meeting of the board, with national selector James Whitaker another potential casualty.

The meeting will be Giles Clarke’s last as chairman, with Colin Graves due to inherit the title next month, but the agenda is already being driven by new chief executive Tom Harrison.

It was Harrison who announced Downton had been dismissed after just 14 months in the job, which has been abolished.

In its place the ECB will recruit a director of England cricket, with minimalistic titular change signifying a new brief that focuses squarely on the improvement of the national side.

Many of Downton’s additional responsibilities are to be reallocated or downgraded, making more recently retired players such as early favourites Michael Vaughan or Andrew Strauss more viable.

Vaughan has already indicated he is “open” to talks, though his colourful critique of the current regime and links to International Sports Management may prove to be bumps in the road.

Strauss was an early contender for the job when Downton was appointed and may revisit the possibility having dipped his toes into television commentary.

Meanwhile Whitaker looks vulnerable to the same ruthlessness that cost Downton dear.

His public performances since taking over from the assured Geoff Miller have left plenty to be desired, with Whitaker often struggling to present a clear version of events.

While the job of picking the squad that so badly underperformed at the World Cup was shared with head coach Peter Moores, Mick Newell and Angus Fraser, Whitaker is top dog and likeliest to carry the can.

There are, of course, questions over Moores’ future, but he will not be judged until at least the end of the current West Indies tour.

Kevin Pietersen’s unlikely return could also be aired more openly now that Downton, a committed opponent of any such move, has been ousted.

It is Downton’s removal of the star batsman that he will be remembered for.

In a previous incarnation he played 30 Tests and 28 ODIs for his country, but his biggest impact on England has been his verdict on Pietersen – who was sacked where most sportsmen are merely dropped.

His pronouncement that he had never seen a player look so “distracted” and “disconnected” was merely the first of several interventions that weakened Downton’s grip on power.

He was later forced into a humiliating apology to Pietersen, having broken the terms of severance when discussing the matter on Test Match Special.

He also erred over Alastair Cook’s one-day captaincy, fulsomely backing his skipper right until the eve of the World Cup, when he was ditched.

His claim that Moores was the “outstanding coach of his generation”, despite having already been sacked from the position, is also set to outlive the man who made it.

Published: Thursday 9th April 2015 by The News Editor

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