England news October 16, 2013

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

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  • Dummy4 on October 19, 2013, 10:01 GMT

    @ Paul Rone-Clark, As far as I'm aware the first professional wicket-keeper to wear a helmet when standing up was Ian Healy, probably in the 1997 Ashes series. It was not the done thing before then so I'd be 99% certain that Paul Downton did not have a helmet (and grille) on when he suffered his career ending injury in 1990. Similarly Mark Boucher was not wearing a helmet last year at Taunton.

    @ Ashes Ernie, the 'Gardening Gloves' are chamois leather padded inners, as worn by most wicket-keepers.

  • Brian on October 18, 2013, 20:27 GMT

    @jackiethepen: While I sense we would be on the same side politically, I have a reflection which may challenge some of your implications regarding Downton. It is from a radio panel discussion in March 1992, when, with South Africa having been readmitted to international cricket, the issue of what to do with those who had been on Mike Gatting's rebel tour of apartheid South Africa in 1989-90 was debated. Although many Tory bankers had always been indifferent about apartheid, Downton was not in favour of reducing the rebels initial five-year ban, signalling the fact that they had sold their loyalty to England for a healthy sum. Even so far as Downton the banker was concerned, here was a case where there was something worth more than money. I also recall that the other two members of the panel on this occasion were Bumble, and the sample representative of the Gatting rebel tour, one Chris Broad. I look forward to how the dynamic between Downton and Broad's offspring might develop ..

  • Richard on October 18, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    Two good appointments. Downton has breathed non-cricket air for a while and Whitaker was the man brave enough (in NZ) to replace Hoggard with Jimmy at the right time, sooner than sentimentalists would have. Good luck to them both. Anyone know why Downton is wearing gardening gloves in the pic above?

  • d on October 18, 2013, 10:31 GMT

    in an echo of his playing career, will there be calls to have Downton replaced by either Bruce French or Jack Richards?

  • GARY on October 18, 2013, 1:33 GMT

    @ jackiethepen There's nothing worse in sport than former sportsmen with no other qualifications or work experience, getting the job because they are nothing more than one of the boys, much like cricket used to be run. Also so what if he worked in the banking sector, plenty of the best business brains work there and had absolutely nothing to do with the financial disaster, poor post imo.

    As for the game disappearing off free to air, well that was simply because non of those channels wanted to pay anything for it, they wanted and expected it on the cheap. God knows what county cricket would be like if we were still on free to air TV, probably half would have gone bankrupt & disappeared by now. It's also no coincident the amount of success England have had while under the SKY deal.

    T o be frank your Andy Flower rants I've read on here and elsewhere over the last few years have been utterly bizarre. They seem to stem because you thought that he treated Ian Bell poorly lol.

  • Des on October 17, 2013, 12:04 GMT

    @Jackiethepen. Agree with so much of what you say . As someone who worked in banking, I hated the culture and would be interested to know exactly what he did in banking. If he was involved in useful lending to industry great; if he was just gambling other people's money, it could hardly be worse. I'm giving him a chance ; people say good things about him and even banking has some people of integrity.

  • R on October 17, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    @jackiethepen.,, i thought i wd never end up agreeing with you on here but i cdnt agree more with your comments... well said...

  • Dummy4 on October 17, 2013, 10:00 GMT

    Just an aside. His career was ended in the same was as Mark Bouchers. Eye injury caused by a bail being pushed through the grill of his helmet by the ball. Nasty. Can't be that uncommon if two international keepers have had the same injury in modern times. International keepers are a tiny - minute subset of the number of keepers their are playing cricket the world over these days, and most modern keepers at all levels of the game wear helmets. Maybe go back to the solid plastic eye piece a-la Chris Tavare

  • Rob on October 17, 2013, 9:13 GMT

    To reiterate Mike Selvey's comments in Guardian he's a damn fine fellow to boot. He won't remember or even know it but his wicketkeeping pads kept us in batting pads in our kids village team. His cast offs were liberated by Selv and regularly found their way in to the Sherington kit bag.

  • Jackie on October 17, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    I think you will find the Saffa influence still at work in selection, hhillbumper while Andy Flower remains a selector and Director of cricket. As for the former cricketer-turned-banker, the appointment could be a disaster to go by recent banking failures. The banking culture almost brought the world to its knees in 2008. I'm not in favour of businessmen running sport, hence the absurd schedules these days to squeeze every penny out of the England team and the current crippling debt carried by Test ground sides at Headingley, Edgbaston, Durham Riverside etc. It's the modern Conservative idea that businessmen are models of efficiency and ought to run sport, schools, the arts etc. The problem is they are only models of making money at the expense of the product. Most kids in England haven't a clue about cricket once it vanished from our TV screens behind a paywall.

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