Downton named England managing director
The ECB has announced two significant changes in England's hierarchy, with the appointment of Paul Downton as the new managing director of England cricket followed by the news that Geoff Miller had asked to relinquish his role as national selector and will be replaced by James Whitaker. Downton, the former England wicketkeeper, will succeed Hugh Morris, who said he would be stepping down in August.
Speculation about Morris' successor had seen several more recent former England players linked with the job but Downton's experience in business since his cricket career appears to have been decisive. The 56-year-old played for Kent and Middlesex before an eye injury suffered while keeping forced his retirement in 1991. A qualified coach, Downton also has a law degree and has built a successful banking career in the City of London.
He will immediately form part of a new team within the ECB management structure, with Whitaker stepping up to the role of chairman of selectors after Miller indicated during the home Ashes series this summer his desire to give up the job he has performed since 2008. Whitaker, who was capped three times by England during a 16-year career with Leicestershire, will take charge of the selection panel - which also includes Ashley Giles and Andy Flower - from the beginning of 2014, with Downton officially starting a month later on February 1.
David Collier, the ECB chief executive, hailed Miller's "exceptional" service, saying he had "developed an excellent relationship with the counties and with the England management team". Whitaker's promotion ensures stability after one of the most consistent and successful periods in England's history.
"England cricket owes a great debt of gratitude to Geoff for the outstanding contribution he has made to the game and to the fortunes of our national team," Collier said. "James Whitaker brings experience and continuity having been a selector since 2008 and we are convinced he will continue the excellent selection process which Geoff has led so efficiently."
Morris, who became the ECB's first managing director of England cricket in 2007 after recommendations made in the Schofield Report, is leaving to become chief executive at Glamorgan. Of Downton's appointment, Collier said: "Paul's record of success both on and off the field made him the outstanding candidate to replace Hugh Morris. His experience of a World Cup final, Ashes success, six County Championship wins and 58 international appearances for England provides a wealth of cricket experience.
"His background in law when coupled with his experience in the City provides the unique set of skills which is required to lead and manage the England cricket department' s £100 million budget over the next four years. Paul will inherit a thriving team England operation, which has been exceptionally well led by Hugh Morris and the ECB wishes Hugh every success in his new role at Glamorgan CCC."
Downton played 30 Tests and 28 ODIs for England, including an appearance in the 1987 World Cup final, and was twice involved in Ashes wins, playing all six Tests in 1985. In county cricket, as well as six Championship titles, he was on the winning side in several one-day finals but suffered a freak injury in 1990 when a bail hit him in the eye, eventually leading him to retire at the age of 34. Whilst working in the banking sector, Downton maintained his links with cricket by sitting on ECB and MCC committees.
"I am honoured to have been offered this position and the trust which the ECB has placed in me to lead our national teams," he said. "Since retiring from the game I have taken a close interest in both county and international cricket and I am excited by the challenge of building on the success which England teams have enjoyed at all levels in recent years. My discussions during the appointment process with the chairman, chief executive, the England team director and one-day coach have provided me with a clear vision of the importance attached to this role and I look forward to forging close and successful working relationships with my new colleagues at ECB."
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here