George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
Steve Elworthy, the ECB director of events who was widely credited for salvaging England's 2020 home season during the Covid-19 outbreak, has been appointed as the new chief executive at Surrey.
Elworthy, the former South Africa seamer who played in four Tests and 39 ODIs, including the 1999 World Cup, will take over from Surrey's interim CEO, Charlie Hodgson, in January, following the departure earlier this year of Richard Gould, who has since taken on an equivalent role at Bristol City FC.
"I have been incredibly lucky to have worked closely with Surrey CCC over the years, especially when hosting major global cricket tournaments," Elworthy said. "Surrey is the biggest club in the country and to be offered the opportunity to work with Richard Thompson and the Board, the Surrey team and players is a huge honour.
"Having played at The Oval when representing South Africa in the 1999 Cricket World Cup, I am looking forward to getting back to cricket and working with the women's and men's teams. Cricket, on and off the field, has been part of my life since I can remember, and its values and comradery have helped shape my drive to keep this amazing sport healthy and vibrant - I am truly excited about the opportunities ahead."
The move is an eyecatching one, given that Elworthy's most recent role at the ECB was to oversee the final arrangements for this year's inaugural season of the Hundred - a tournament which Surrey's previous regime had strongly opposed, not least given the success that the Kia Oval has enjoyed in staging regular T20 Blast sell-outs in recent years.
However, the inaugural season of the Hundred proved a qualified success, in particular thanks to the heightened profile of the women's competition, which was launched at The Oval with a stand-alone fixture between Oval Invincibles and Manchester Originals. The Invincibles went on to lift the women's trophy in the final at Lord's, and Elworthy's appointment may be seen as an attempt to forge closer ties between the ECB and English cricket's richest club.
Elworthy's CV includes his role as Managing Director of the 2019 World Cup - a tournament won by England - while he has previously overseen seven ICC World Events across two countries, including the 2009 World T20 in England. He served three years as the ECB Director of Marketing and Communications, and is also a former Commercial Director for Cricket South Africa. In 2018 he was awarded an MBE for his services to cricket, but also holds other non-executive posts in sports such as netball, basketball and cycling.
Thompson, Surrey's chair, added: "I am absolutely delighted to welcome Steve Elworthy to the Surrey family. His reputation and achievements in cricket go before him and I have no doubt of the positive impact and difference he will make for Surrey County Cricket Club and The Kia Oval.
"The Club has only had two Chief Executives in the past 25 years and continuity has been a huge part of our success. This year we have produced more England players than we have for a generation, attracted a record number of Members, opened the incredible new Galadari Stand and continued to develop a hotel adjacent to the ground.
"Surrey CCC is in great shape and remains very ambitious for future success - on and off the field. I have no doubt Steve is well very equipped to help the club fulfil its full potential."
Hodgson, whose main priority in his interim role has been to steer Surrey through the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, is understood to be disappointed at missing out on the full-time position. However, the club are keen to retain his commercial acumen, with Thompson praising his efforts in balancing the books in unprecedented circumstances.
"I would also like to play tribute to our Interim Chief Executive, Charlie Hodgson," Thompson said. "He has done an outstanding job over one of the most challenging seasons I can ever remember. The club owes a debt to Charlie's commitment and hard work for the club I know he loves dearly."