The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) governing body has appointed Richard Thompson as its new chairperson, filling a position that had been vacant since October last year.
Thompson, 55, the current chair at Surrey County Cricket Club, one of the 18 professional counties which make up the professional cricket circuit in the country, will take up his new role on September 1 and serve for five years.
He was the unanimous choice of the nominations committee, the ECB has said, and will succeed Martin Darlow, who has been occupying the position on an interim basis since late 2021.
Darlow has been in that position ever since Ian Watmore, the ECB’s previous permanent chair, stepped down in October last year – after a little over 10 months in the role – in the wake of the ECB’s decision to pull out of a scheduled men’s tour to Pakistan at extremely short notice.
Watmore was blamed by the counties for this debacle and subsequently jumped before he was pushed, it was reported at the time.
Thompson has now said: “I am immensely proud to become chair of the ECB at what is a hugely important time for cricket.
“I am looking forward to using my experience and love for the game in taking this opportunity to give cricket a fresh start. Alongside the board and senior leaders at the ECB, we will work with the counties and the recreational game. Collaboration and partnership will be the key to our sport's future.”
Thompson enters the ECB at a time when the governing body is without a chief executive – that role’s last incumbent, Tom Harrison, stepped down in June after seven years at the helm of the organization.
He has been chair at Surrey since 2011, and outside cricket was appointed chair of the M&C Saatchi UK division of the sport and entertainment agency in 2020.
Thomspon had set up his own talent management agency, Merlin Elite, which was then subsumed into the M&C Saatchi organization, in 2003.
Brenda Trenowden, an ECB independent director who was in charge of the nominations committee, added: “We are delighted to announce Richard’s arrival to the ECB as chair. His blend of exceptional commercial and cricket administration experience supports our aims to grow and diversify the game whilst guiding the game as we face challenging financial headwinds."
In terms of hosting major international tournaments, England is set to stage the 2026 ICC Women’s T20 Cricket World Cup, and the 2030 ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup.
Over the last month, the ECB has sewn up a broadcast rights extension in the domestic market and has moved close to tying up a renewal in the most lucrative overseas market for cricket, India.
Domestically, Sky Sports, the heavyweight UK pay-TV broadcaster, has extended its partnership with the ECB through to the end of 2028.
The new deal, announced on July 14 and taking effect from 2025, will take the partnership between Sky and the ECB past 30 years.
Last week, meanwhile, it was reported that Sony Pictures Network (SPN), the Indian pay-television broadcaster, is on the verge of renewing its rights to home international cricket played by England for the next six years.