#sports New ECB chief Richard Thompson: 'We have to protect the red-ball game... we can't diminish it'

#sports New ECB chief Richard Thompson: ‘We have to protect the red-ball game… we can’t diminish it’

#sports activities New ECB chief Richard Thompson: ‘We have to protect the red-ball sport… we can’t diminish it’

Richard Thompson is beneath no illusions about the dimension of his process with cricket at a crossroads after taking over maybe the largest job of his busy and profitable life.

‘Luckily I’ve acquired an extremely understanding spouse,’ smiles the new chair of the ECB. ‘I’ve mentioned to my children, “I’ll see you in five years, here’s a picture of me.” I believe they know this is a chance to depart a legacy that doesn’t come round fairly often.

‘Ultimately if you’re going to select one thing in life you’ve acquired to make sacrifices and I’ll make them for this. It’s a chance I’ll by no means get once more.

New ECB chair Richard Thompson (above) sees the opportunity to leave a legacy

New ECB chair Richard Thompson (above) sees the alternative to depart a legacy

‘Anyone who knows me knows how much I love this game. It’s outlined me and made me who I’m. An alternative to chair the governing physique and produce about change is one thing I by no means dreamed of doing.

‘It will require a lot and there will be very challenging moments. Hopefully I’m well-equipped to cope with them.’

It is a problem that can definitely check a person steeped in achievements in enterprise, notably in his position as chair of the M&C Saatchi UK Group, and in cricket the place he has been the key determine, as chairman, in turning Surrey right into a county juggernaut.

English cricket is split like not often earlier than over the future route of the sport whereas the primacy of worldwide cricket is threatened by the worldwide rise of Twenty20 franchises.

Thompson, a champion of the counties who put himself ahead after an extended and fruitless seek for Ian Watmore’s successor as chair, is dedicated to placing England first.

Primacy of international cricket is threatened by the worldwide rise of Twenty20 franchises

Primacy of worldwide cricket is threatened by the worldwide rise of Twenty20 franchises

‘The players have got so many choices now to play in multiple white-ball competitions,’ he tells Sportsmail in his first main interview after taking up at the ECB final week. ‘There are three or four where players can earn millions of dollars. How do we compete with that?

‘How does any country keep its players and not allow them to become guns for hire? We have to find a way. I do think the next generation will still take the view that careers are defined by winning the Ashes and World Cups.

‘It’s not nearly cash. It’s about leaving a legacy and creating one thing that outlives them. It’s simply one thing we can’t overlook. I don’t suppose we’re in a Packer second however we shouldn’t underestimate this.’ Thompson, 55, is up for the battle. ‘Our pathway starts at Under 9s,’ he says. ‘So we nurture talent through academies into first-class cricket. English and Welsh cricket does that. So why should that be a precursor for a player to be handed to a franchise and England don’t get to see the profit? That can’t be proper.

‘It’s for us to take pleasure in the fruits of our growth to see that participant taking part in for England.’

One of these ‘franchise’ competitions is the Hundred, an innovation that has brought about a lot of that division in the sport. So opposed have been Thompson and Surrey to the new competitors that the chair ended up resigning from the ECB board in 2018.

English cricket is divided like rarely before over the future direction of the game

English cricket is split like not often earlier than over the future route of the sport

Now, two years into the Hundred, the new ECB chair has a extra balanced view. ‘You do take positions of principle and sometimes you pay a price for that,’ he says. ‘I did pay a value after I resigned from the board.

‘But the Hundred has found an audience and it has done that far quicker than anyone imagined. And I didn’t see that it could be this enormous for the girls’s sport.

‘There have been big plusses from the Hundred but we need to find a way that all formats can exist together.’ Those nervous, specifically, about the first-class sport and the doable discount in County Championship matches and an introduction of a Premier League by Sir Andrew Strauss’s High Performance Review might be reassured by Thompson’s love of the red-ball sport.

Thompson reaches into his bag and produces a ball he has borrowed from the Oval that was used, in 1886, from a sport between Surrey and Australia. Remarkably, it has retained each its form and hardness.

‘That’s considered one of the oldest cricket balls in the world,’ he says. ‘Five hundred runs were scored with that ball. The point is the balls never change and the red ball is so important. That’s the ball that creates legacy.

‘We can never lose sight of that. That’s the ball that creates reminiscences that transcend people. It’s these “I was there” moments which are so distinctive to our sport that deliver communities collectively. We as England have to protect the red-ball sport. We can’t diminish that.’

The break with Surrey and the Oval, the place Thompson is so synonymous with on and off-field success, has been clear. ‘There cannot be any further contact with me at the level I was as chairman,’ he says. ‘It’s a brand new chapter. I characterize 41 counties now and wish to do the finest job I can for all of them.

Thompson was previously opposed to The Hundred but now has a more balanced view

Thompson was beforehand opposed to The Hundred however now has a extra balanced view

‘It’s necessary any county feels I’m representing their finest pursuits and the finest pursuits of the sport in a approach that creates impartiality, which I’ll have.’

So the place does Thompson, who will prioritise the appointment of a brand new chief government to work with him, count on cricket to be at the finish of his five-year time period?

‘I sincerely hope both at men’s and ladies’s degree we are the finest in the world, that we have grown the sport and are seen to be a much more inclusive and numerous sport,’ he says. ‘That communities trust us and embrace the game.

‘We have a target of four million spectators. It’s at round three million per yr now. We may try this if we drive it exhausting. There’s numerous rigidity in the sport now. I don’t need that in 5 years.

‘This is a role you have to throw yourself into and I will do that. It doesn’t matter what else I’ve performed in life, it’s most likely this folks will keep in mind me for.

‘How you bring about change is having the right values and developing the right culture. It’s going to be fairly a journey however I hope by the finish I’ve made a distinction.’

English cricket, at a time that’s offering challenges like not often earlier than, is in protected palms.

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