ECB CEO calls for 'reset' after Ashes flop

ECB CEO Tom Harrison says it's time to reset after England's Ashes series disappointment.
ECB CEO Tom Harrison says it's time to reset after England's Ashes series disappointment.

Tom Harrison has accepted that the England and Wales Cricket Board must embrace a "moment to reset" in the aftermath of Ashes defeat.

The ECB's chief executive has been at the helm since 2015, overseeing a profound change in the country's approach to limited-overs cricket.

In that time England have gone from perennial also rans in the white-ball game to 50-over world champions and the top ranked team in Twenty20s. Harrison was also an instrumental voice in the launch of The Hundred.

But England's disappointing tour of Australia, where they surrendered the urn in 12 one-sided days of action, has shone a harsh light on the state of the red-ball game.

A review of the tour is being prepared by managing director of men's cricket, Ashley Giles, but Harrison already admits that a change of emphasis is overdue.

"Our priority is Test cricket. We want to be successful at white-ball cricket, of course we do, but we absolutely need to be successful at Test cricket," he said.

"It feels like this is a moment to reset the importance of red-ball cricket in our domestic schedule, for us to recalibrate how we play first-class cricket in the UK.

"Sometimes the ability to effect change on something as complicated as our schedule is when you have a performance-related issue, and we have one now.

"This has been an exceptionally difficult tour. I don't think we can get away from the fact that it has been another very disappointing episode in our ongoing attempt to win the Ashes in Australia.

"We have really got to get to the bottom of this once and for all now and make sure the debate is answering the questions we are asking.

"We must not be afraid of some of these questions. Let's have the right balance of red and white ball, let's look at when we play red ball cricket, the pitches we play on, the ball we use."

Harrison also revisited the issue of England's exhausting international commitments. No other country plays as often and the cracks have started to emerge during the Covid-19 era, with rest and rotation becoming a regular part of the equation.

"The way we manage player workloads is clearly going to be a matter of premium concern as we go forward in 2022," he said.

"Internationally, when we get out of the immediate aftermath in the wake of Covid, we've got to look at how we manage fixture workloads.

"This is something that the chief executives' committee at ICC need to tackle in the round. It is a difficult challenge for world cricket."

Harrison went on to suggest that there was "a strong case" for greater cricket knowledge on the ECB board and offered full support to Joe Root's captaincy.

Australian Associated Press