We’ve a slight concern that the ECB’s new chief executive referred to ‘the England Cricket Department’ in announcing Paul Downton’s sacking, as if English cricket really were a corporation in which broad, curved desks were every bit as important pieces of equipment as bats and balls. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to feel some sense of relief that someone involved has finally taken a fairly obvious, logical decision.
Back in October, we asked if the entire organisation could be dissolved, to be replaced by something more representative, but we knew that this was unrealistic, which was why we’d shifted to ‘sack Downton and Whitaker‘ by last month. It sounds like we’re getting our wish.
Almost as if he has spent the last 20 years ‘outside cricket’ working in a bank, Downton was found wanting. Personal attacks are needless and distasteful. He was merely the beneficiary of a nasty little system and his story ends with him also falling victim to that system by way of its inevitable failings. He appeared to allow himself to be bounced about by superiors as well as those under him. It’s easy to influence people who don’t know their stuff. When you know your world inside-out, you have the clarity which breeds conviction.
Selectors are harder to appraise, but Whitaker, if he goes, can have few complaints. His predecessor, Geoff Miller, presided over a period of success which ended at almost the exact moment he walked out the door. It’s long enough ago now that what has happened since surely has to be meaningful with regards to Whitaker’s performance.
The pair will be replaced by one bloke who will be responsible for the men’s England cricket team and nothing else. Michael Vaughan appears to be an early frontrunner. He would presumably have to detach himself from the ISM Sports Management firm for this to happen, which would at least mean he wouldn’t be clogging up column inches and frittering away airtime talking up its clients while trading on his reputation as an Ashes-winning captain.