I don’t like being unkind on this discussion board. Nevertheless, on this event I really feel compelled to offer a visceral, and completely genuine, response to Tom Harrison’s departure from the ECB. The headline above summarises my emotions succinctly and truthfully. And, as a result of I’m not a paid cricket journalist, I don’t should fake to be goal. Sorry if my blunt strategy under offends you.

Tom Harrison joined the ECB seven years in the past. And, so far as I’m involved, it was seven years too lengthy. He was a wrecking ball that badly broken issues I care deeply about. He was such a wrecking ball, in actual fact, that the construction underpinning the England Take a look at staff is now hardly standing: we haven’t produced a single Take a look at class batsman since Joe Root and the county championship has been criminally weakened. Sadly, it’s going to take a protracted, very long time to place strong foundations again in place and rebuild this factor.

Teflon Tom, as some preferred to name him, was appointed due to his background in media. He was introduced in to ship a bumper TV deal – additional nailing the ECB’s colors to Sky’s mast – and he duly delivered. He then used his experience to safe a good larger TV deal, which included The Hundred, earlier than stepping down. One simply hopes that he hasn’t managed to place in place (behind the scenes) a good longer dedication to cover each Take a look at cricket and 50 over cricket behind a pay wall earlier than he slung his hook.

Harrison, after all, all the time claimed that cricket wanted to draw a broader viewers. However he by no means defined how hiding the purist types of the sport from the broadest viewers attainable would obtain this said objective. As a substitute, he only needed to spoon-feed his personal peculiar 100-ball vainness mission. Even for those who thought The Hundred was successful (which is extremely debatable), it’s arduous to disclaim that precisely the identical stage of success couldn’t have been achieved with T20 and present golf equipment moderately than completely new franchises. English cricket’s rebrand / contemporary pitch to the general public, would’ve been much more profitable had present followers truly been onside.

So what was Harrison’s legacy? For me, it’s easy. He’s the person that oversaw a discount in participation at grass roots stage, bought cricket’s soul, crippled the primary class sport, undermined the counties, introduced the England Take a look at staff to its knees, and in addition broken the sport’s repute by dealing with the racism scandal at Yorkshire ineptly. Need to make cricket extra inclusive, Tom? Then perhaps don’t make the game appear like it’s sweeping racial abuse underneath the rug.

Though some might argue, fairly rightly, that Harrison helped to save lots of cricket from monetary break throughout the Covid-19 disaster, we shouldn’t neglect that English cricket wouldn’t have been in such a dangerous monetary state had he not squandered the ECB’s reserves on the unnecessary Hundred. What’s extra, he misplaced a number of goodwill by then doing the soiled on Pakistan, one of many groups lined as much as play in England throughout that tough summer time of 2020, by pulling out of a reciprocal T20 tour in Pakistan afterward. Good contact, Teflon.  

There will probably be some, after all, who will level to what he’s finished for ladies’s cricket. And that’s a great level. As somebody with a younger daughter, I’m delighted that there will probably be extra alternatives for her to play the sport I really like. Nevertheless, let’s not fake that the Hundred was particularly designed to spice up girls’s cricket. That was simply post-rationalisation when the event proved to be extra divisive and, if we’re being sincere, not fairly as compelling or profitable because the ECB had privately hoped. Didn’t fairly get the ticket gross sales and TV audiences you needed for the boys’s event? Simply level to the success of the ladies (who, after all, they didn’t pay pretty).

Whereas we’re as regards to The Hundred, let’s speak about weight problems in youngsters as nicely. The choice to nominate KP Snacks because the event’s fundamental sponsor backfired horribly and led to extra embarrassment. Final month the promoting watchdog discovered that the ECB had focused junk meals advertisements at youngsters, regardless of their completely unconvincing claims on the contrary. Mainly, if there’s an moral subject in play, you could possibly all the time depend on the Harrison-led ECB to come back down on the fallacious aspect of the ethical argument.

Now a few of chances are you’ll learn this and dismiss it as a mere polemic. And also you’re proper. It’s a polemic – and it’s one I’ve written extraordinarily shortly, too. I clearly don’t like Harrison – for excellent causes – and I’m not pretending to be goal. Nevertheless, I’ll depart you with one thought, which I hope would possibly resonate…

I’ve been watching cricket for the most effective a part of 4 a long time. I’ve seen dangerous directors come and dangerous directors go. I’ve even suffered Giles ‘the suitable type of household’ Clarke. What’s extra, I’ve seen some completely wretched performances from the England groups throughout this time. For all their errors, nonetheless, none of them have ever made me query my ardour for cricket and my allegiance to the nationwide aspect. However Tom Harrison, or moderately choices that Harrison (alongside others) have remodeled the previous few years, have finished precisely that. Typically I’ve discovered it arduous to put in writing something for this weblog as a result of I’ve simply felt too numb concerning the route of journey. 

I’ve sometimes even felt ashamed to be an England cricket supporter on Tom Harrison’s watch. The choice to drag out of the Pakistan T20 sequence, the KP Snacks hook-up, the dealing with of the Azeem Rafiq scandal, plus the ECB’s performances at two DCMS Committee hearings had been past embarrassing. The half-truths, the obfuscation, and the disingenuity of our cricket directors as of late make them look like politicians.

What’s extra, English cricket is now as polarised (because of The Hundred and the controversy over the home construction) because it’s ever been. Have any sagas, together with the dropping of Kevin Pietersen, brought on extra resentment and dangerous blood?

And that, for me, will probably be Tom Harrison’s main legacy: division. Apologists would possibly argue that typically you’ve acquired to interrupt eggs to make an omelette. And that’s true in some circumstances. Nevertheless, with regards to Tom Harrison stint on the ECB, most of these eggs landed firmly on his face. And his omelettes had been all the time served up with an unappetising surfeit of pure cheese.

James Morgan  

Author: Londonlad

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