Vaughan seeks top job after Downton is sacked

Former Managing Director England Cricket Paul Downton
Former Managing Director England Cricket Paul Downton
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MICHAEL VAUGHAN last night threw his hat into the ring to become the new director of English cricket after Paul Downton was dramatically sacked.

Former England captain Vaughan expressed his interest in taking on the newly-created position after Downton was removed as managing director of England cricket after just over a year in the job.

Vaughan has close links with Colin Graves, the outgoing Yorkshire chairman and incoming chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, who is likely to have played a part in the decision ahead of starting his new role on May 15.

The axe was officially wielded by Tom Harrison, the new ECB chief executive whom Graves has charged with conducting a widespread review into English cricket, and who last night insisted that the decision does not impact on coach Peter Moores’s position. Vaughan, who famously led England to Ashes glory 10 years ago and who has carved out a second career as a media pundit, said: “I’m not going to give my phone number, but I think they (the ECB) have got it.

“I’m always open to chat about trying to help English cricket, make them a better unit, see these young players go out and express their talent. It’s a big year.”

Commenting on Downton’s departure, which followed England’s disastrous World Cup and their bungled handling of Kevin Pietersen’s sacking, Vaughan said: “It’s inevitable there would be change, but there’s a deeper-rooted problem within England cricket.

“Removing one man doesn’t make us go in the direction of being the No 1 side in the world. A cultural change needs to happen.

“In Test cricket, we are all right, but the Kevin Pietersen issue has been a debacle from the start right through until now.

“The World Cup was a disaster because of the way the team played. Many fingers were pointed at the backroom team but 15 players didn’t play to the standard they’d expect and it’s important they take responsibility.

“This is going back 20 years. We’re dated and always chase the game. Teams like South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and India are some distance away from the way England are playing at the moment.”

Downton, who succeeded Hugh Morris in February last year, was under pressure almost from day one when he fronted the decision to sack controversial batsman Pietersen after the Ashes whitewash.

Downton deemed the player disconnected and then broke a non-disclosure agreement which was part of Pietersen’s contract settlement during an interview with Test Match Special, which led to an apology being issued.

Downton’s appointment of Moores as coach also had its critics, while his description of him as the “outstanding coach of his generation” has drawn ridicule as results have suffered.

His part in the decision to back Alastair Cook as one-day captain only to ditch him on the eve of the World Cup also went down badly.

In an official statement last night, Tom Harrison said: “The England cricket department needs to deliver performance at the highest level and our structure needs to be accountable for reaching the standards we aspire to. The new role we are putting in place will deliver an environment where world-class performance is at the heart of everything we do.

“Paul is a man of great integrity, who has worked extremely hard to make a difference at the ECB.

“He joined at a very difficult time, but under his leadership the Test team have made significant strides.

“We thank him for his hard work, drive and determination and wish him every success for the future.

“The touring team in the West Indies are aware of the changes. The process for appointing the new role, with sole responsibility for the England set-up, will begin immediately.”

In addition to Vaughan, other candidates include Andrew Strauss, another former England captain. Strauss may feel he now has sufficient distance from the team having also taken on a media role since retiring.

Quite what the new director of English cricket would do, however, or how the role would differ from Downton’s is unclear.

Harrison has effectively abolished Downton’s job description and replaced it with a slightly reworded title that amounts to much the same thing.

An additional statement from the ECB last night attempted to clarify: “The managing director role will be removed from the ECB structure.

“A newly created role of ‘Director of England Cricket’, with a clear focus on delivering a world-class performance environment for all formats will replace it.

“The restructuring follows a review of the team’s performance at the World Cup and a need to look to the long-term, putting a plan in place for 2019 and beyond.”