John Stephenson has been appointed as Essex's new chief executive officer. Stephenson, the former Essex allrounder who has spent the last 17 years working for the MCC, will take charge at Chelmsford in October.
Stephenson, who played one Test for England, came through at Essex and had two spells at the club, between 1984-1994 and 2002-2004. His post-playing career began as MCC Head of Cricket, eventually becoming the club's Assistant Secretary (Cricket). He steps down from the role, to be replaced by Jamie Cox.
His appointment follows a lengthy process to find a successor for Derek Bowden at Essex. Bowden announced his intention to retire in October 2020, shortly after the club had lifted the Bob Willis Trophy, and Essex are believed to have been hit hard financially by the effects of the pandemic.
"I'm delighted to have been given the opportunity to come back to Essex as the club had a big influence on my professional career," Stephenson said. "Having spent over a decade with the club as a player, I couldn't pass up the prospect of taking on this fantastic role.
"The club means so much to so many people and has a key role to play in the wider Essex community. One of my main objectives is to continue and build on the recent success that the club have experienced both on and off the field. With the support of the members, fans and the team, I believe we can continue to compete and bring silverware back to Chelmsford."
Having spent more than a decade largely confined to Division Two of the County Championship, Essex claimed their first title in 25 years in 2017, a season after being promoted. They were Division One champions again in 2019, as well as winning the T20 Blast, but failed to qualify for the top tier from this year's Championship conference stage, meaning they won't be in the running to defend either red-ball title in September.
Essex's executive chairman John Faragher said: "After an extensive interview process involving some very high-calibre personnel, John was clearly the outstanding candidate for the position at Essex. His exceptional skillset together with his appreciation of the modern game and the challenges facing cricket in the future were key credentials in making our decision.
"He will lead the executive team on our journey to the next level in performance both on and off the field. Although we continue to face numerous problems brought about by the pandemic, we continue to be very focused on the future.
"These are exciting times for the club and the board looks forward to supporting and working with John."