The ECB’s long search for a new chair is set to end with them naming the highly experienced Richard Thompson.
Thompson, 54, has been one of the best and most forward thinking administrators in the English game in masterminding, along with former chief executive Richard Gould, the rise and rise of Surrey to become the biggest and most successful county in English cricket.
And he decided earlier this summer the time was right for him to attempt to swap the role of chairman at the Oval for the ECB after a long and botched recruitment process following the resignation last October of Ian Watmore in light of England’s refusal to tour Pakistan.
The word is Thompson plans to be radical as ECB chair, at a pivotal time in the game’s history
Richard Thompson (R) is set to be announced as ECB chair after a long search for a replacement for Ian Watmore (L)
Now, following four interviews, the ECB nominations committee are set to announce next week the appointment of the proven business expertise of Thompson, group chair of the M&C Saatchi entertainment group, ahead of interim chair Martin Darlow.
Thompson will have a huge task on his hands in taking over at a time of unprecedented turmoil and division over the future direction of the domestic game.
But he was the overwhelming choice of the counties who believe he can bridge the growing divide among those who wish to preserve the existing system and protect first-class cricket and those who have gambled the game’s future on the Hundred.
As Surrey chair Thompson opposed the controversial The Hundred competition
Thompson was one of the few leading figures in English cricket to oppose the introduction of the controversial new competition before Surrey relented and came on board in the form of the Oval Invincibles. Now he is believed to accept he will just have to make the Hundred work after it was confirmed for the next three years in the ECB’s new broadcasting deal
Thompson will also join Andrew Strauss in completing his high performance review into the English game which promises radical change but has cause considerable trepidation among cricket lovers and even England captain Ben Stokes.
The role of chair is meant to be a three-day a week job but it would be no surprise if Thompson, whose interest in the position was revealed by Sportsmail in May, gives up his other interests to take it on full-time.
He could also try to rekindle his successful partnership with Gould in attempting to lure him away from his new role at Bristol City to become ECB CEO in place of Tom Harrison.