England have ‘brilliant opportunity’ to reset red-ball cricket after Ashes thumping, says ECB chief Tom Harrison


Tom Harrison says English cricket must get balance right between red and white-ball cricket, looking at when games are played and which ball is used in the county game; ECB chief executive says packed international calendar must be addressed in order to successfully manage player workload

Last Updated: 14/01/22 8:55am

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison says the Ashes thrashing has given English cricket ‘a brilliant opportunity’ to ‘reset’ the red-ball game

Tom Harrison says the English game has a “brilliant opportunity” to “reset” red-ball cricket in the wake of the national team’s Ashes defeat.

England were thumped in the first three Tests in Australia this winter as they lost the series after just 12 days of cricket.

Joe Root’s side lost nine of their 15 Tests in total in 2021 and were dismissed for less than 200 on 13 occasions last year.

A focus on white-ball cricket helped England win the 2019 50-over World Cup on home soil but ECB chief executive Harrison says the time has come to redress the balance between the formats.

He said: “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.

Joe Root's England side lost the Ashes series in just 12 days

Joe Root’s England side lost the Ashes series in just 12 days

“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.

Harrison: Ashes tour exceptionally difficult

“It’s a brilliant opportunity for us to come together as a game and really sort that once and for all. 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: 'The way we manage player workloads is clearly going to be a matter of premium concern as we go forward in 2022'

Harrison: ‘The way we manage player workloads is clearly going to be a matter of premium concern as we go forward in 2022’

‘Player workload a premium concern’

On England’s packed international calendar, Harrison added: “We do have to look at the schedule – everyone knows that.

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

“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 also suggested there was “a strong case” for greater cricket knowledge on the ECB board and offered full support to Root continuing as Test captain.

He was, however, less keen to engage on the subject of his own bonus scheme, with Harrison and other senior ECB executives due to split a pot reportedly in excess of £2m.

Asked if it was appropriate to accept the payment at a time when performances are under the microscope and finances are stretched by the pandemic, Harrison added: “That is a question about an employment contract.

“The board set the criteria on which we are judged and that’s a matter for them.”





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