Rise of cricket of­fi­cials and fall of the game

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

When Eng­land crashed out of the pre-quar­ters at the 2015 World Cup in Aus­tralia-New Zealand, the Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) knew it was time for an over­haul. It started with step­ping down of Giles Clarke, the ECB's Chair­man of eight years, fol­lowed by the re­moval of Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Paul Down­ton and Head Coach Peter Moores - the two of­fi­cials seen as chiefly re­spon­si­ble for Eng­land's cat­a­strophic cam­paign at the mega event.

With the new Chair­man Colin Graves now firmly in place, the ECB think-tank went about the chal­leng­ing task of re­vamp­ing Eng­land cricket in a highly pro­fes­sional man­ner. A lot of se­ri­ous thought, strat­egy and plan­ning went into the process. Catch­ing a nerve with English cricket, the think-tank felt that ev­ery­one in­clud­ing the Eng­land cap­tain, its play­ers and the coach­ing staff ought to be made ac­count­able to some au­thor­ity - a vastly ex­pe­ri­enced, re­spected in­di­vid­ual who pos­sesses proven ad­min­is­tra­tive and mo­ti­va­tional skills.

Soon af­ter­wards, a newly-cre­ated po­si­tion of Di­rec­tor of Cricket saw ex-skip­per An­drew Strauss tak­ing charge. De­scribed by ECB Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Tom Har­ri­son as 'an au­thor­i­ta­tive voice on the mod­ern game with a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence in build­ing suc­cess­ful teams', Strauss in ef­fect as­sumed the role of a high-per­for­mance man­ager - a con­cept bor­rowed in cricket from rugby over the years.

Ten months down the line, a mere glance at Eng­land's im­pres­sive vic­tory graph shows how bril­liantly Strauss has per­formed in his job. Like a phoenix ris­ing from the ashes, Eng­land have shrugged off the World Cup disas­ter to be­come a feared ri­val for all op­po­si­tion.

Start­ing May 2015 to date, Eng­land have beaten New Zealand and Aus­tralia in Tests at home and South Africa on their own turf. Be­sides, they have won eight ODIs and five T20 games against ma­jor out­fits like New Zealand, Aus­tralia and, of course, Pak­istan in rather un­favourable con­di­tions in the UAE. Such achieve­ments have al­most com­pletely erased the un­pleas­ant mem­o­ries of Eng­land's World Cup ouster, re-es­tab­lish­ing them as a top rank­ing side. New Zealand, too, have gone about a sim­i­lar re­vamp fol­low­ing their hor­rific tour of South Africa back in 2013 and to­day, their at­tack­ing brand of cricket has fetched them un­prece­dented suc­cess. As for chief selec­tor Ha­roon Rasheed, the less said the bet­ter. The for­mer bats­man has made a mock­ery of his of­fice by con­ced­ing his au­thor­ity too read­ily to the team man­age­ment, and more re­cently by jump­ing the band­wagon of coaches as­pir­ing to sign up for cash-rich PSL.

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