Tom Harrison, chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) governing body, will step down from that role in June, it has been announced today (May 17).

Harrison has been in charge at the ECB since January 2015, and the ECB has already appointed executive recruitment firm Spencer Stuart to lead the hunt for a new chief executive.

Clare Connor, currently the director of women’s cricket at the governing body (and former national team captain), will take over as interim chief executive in the meantime until the post can be occupied on a permanent basis.

Harrison has now said: “The past two years have been incredibly challenging, but we have pulled together to get through the pandemic, overcome cricket’s biggest financial crisis, and committed to tackling discrimination and continuing the journey towards becoming the inclusive, welcoming sport we strive to be. I have put everything into this role, but I believe now is the right time to bring in fresh energy to continue this work.”

Martin Darlow, interim chair at the ECB (the last permanent chair, Ian Watmore, having stood down in October), added: “Tom has been an outstanding CEO and deserves our sincere thanks for all he has achieved in his time at the ECB.

“He has always put the interests of the game first and worked to lead important change to make our game more accessible and inclusive, though we all know there is still much more work to do.

“We will now begin the search for his successor who can build on all that he has achieved. I’m pleased that Clare Connor has agreed to step into the role on an interim basis while this process is underway.”

After a short career as a professional cricketer with Northamptonshire and Derbyshire, Harrison moved into the world of sports rights management.

He has spent periods of time at both IMG, the international sports and entertainment agency giant, and at heavyweight Asian broadcaster ESPN Star Sports (now just Star Sports).

At IMG, he was responsible, through different roles, for handling the agency’s media business in both the UK and Singapore.

His departure from the ECB comes at a point when he was coming under increasing pressure from stakeholders in the English game anyway, over a range of recent decisions and incidents.

Foremost amongst these, it was revealed last year that Harrison and several other senior ECB executives are in line to share a bonus sum of £2.1 million ($2.6 million) – despite having cut 20% of the governing body’s staff during the coronavirus pandemic – as a result of the perceived success of The Hundred, the new short-form domestic franchise that launched last year and that he was integral in pushing through.

It was also reported in November last year that various executives from English domestic cricket’s 18 counties were considering calling for his removal, over what they considered serious inadequacies in the ECB response to former player Azeem Rafiq’s allegations of racism at Yorkshire.