Good Riddance To Tom Harrison

I don’t like being unkind on this forum. However, on this occasion I feel compelled to give a visceral, and totally authentic, reaction to Tom Harrison’s departure from the ECB. The headline above summarises my feelings succinctly and honestly. And, because I’m not a paid cricket journalist, I don’t have to pretend to be objective. Sorry if my blunt approach below offends you.

Tom Harrison joined the ECB seven years ago. And, as far as I’m concerned, it was seven years too long. He was a wrecking ball that badly damaged things I care deeply about. He was such a wrecking ball, in fact, that the structure underpinning the England Test team is now hardly standing: we haven’t produced a single Test class batsman since Joe Root and the county championship has been criminally weakened. Sadly, it’s going to take a long, long time to put solid foundations back in place and rebuild this thing.

Teflon Tom, as some liked to call him, was appointed because of his background in media. He was brought in to deliver a bumper TV deal – further nailing the ECB’s colours to Sky’s mast – and he duly delivered. He then used his expertise to secure an even bigger TV deal, which included The Hundred, before stepping down. One just hopes that he hasn’t managed to put in place (behind the scenes) an even longer commitment to hide both Test cricket and 50 over cricket behind a pay wall before he slung his hook.

Harrison, of course, always claimed that cricket needed to attract a broader audience. But he never explained how hiding the purist forms of the game from the broadest audience possible would achieve this stated goal. Instead, he only wanted to spoon-feed his own peculiar 100-ball vanity project. Even if you thought The Hundred was a success (which is highly debatable), it’s hard to deny that exactly the same level of success couldn’t have been achieved with T20 and existing clubs rather than totally new franchises. English cricket’s rebrand / fresh pitch to the public, would’ve been far more successful had existing fans actually been onside.

So what was Harrison’s legacy? For me, it’s simple. He’s the man that oversaw a reduction in participation at grass roots level, sold cricket’s soul, crippled the first class game, undermined the counties, brought the England Test team to its knees, and also damaged the game’s reputation by handling the racism scandal at Yorkshire ineptly. Want to make cricket more inclusive, Tom? Then maybe don’t make the sport look like it’s sweeping racial abuse under the rug.

Although some may argue, quite rightly, that Harrison helped to save cricket from financial ruin during the Covid-19 crisis, we shouldn’t forget that English cricket wouldn’t have been in such a perilous financial state had he not squandered the ECB’s reserves on the needless Hundred. What’s more, he lost a lot of goodwill by then doing the dirty on Pakistan, one of the teams lined up to play in England during that difficult summer of 2020, by pulling out of a reciprocal T20 tour in Pakistan later on. Nice touch, Teflon.  

There will be some, of course, who will point to what he’s done for women’s cricket. And that’s a good point. As someone with a young daughter, I’m delighted that there will be more opportunities for her to play the game I love. However, let’s not pretend that the Hundred was specifically designed to boost women’s cricket. That was just post-rationalisation when the tournament proved to be more divisive and, if we’re being honest, not quite as compelling or successful as the ECB had privately hoped. Didn’t quite get the ticket sales and TV audiences you wanted for the men’s tournament? Just point to the success of the women (who, of course, they didn’t pay fairly).

While we’re on the subject of The Hundred, let’s talk about obesity in kids as well. The decision to appoint KP Snacks as the tournament’s main sponsor backfired horribly and led to more embarrassment. Last month the advertising watchdog found that the ECB had targeted junk food ads at children, despite their totally unconvincing claims to the contrary. Basically, if there’s an ethical issue in play, you could always rely on the Harrison-led ECB to come down on the wrong side of the moral argument.

Now some of you may read this and dismiss it as a mere polemic. And you’re right. It is a polemic – and it’s one I’ve written extremely quickly, too. I clearly don’t like Harrison – for very good reasons – and I’m not pretending to be objective. However, I’ll leave you with one thought, which I hope might resonate…

I’ve been watching cricket for the best part of four decades. I’ve seen bad administrators come and bad administrators go. I’ve even suffered Giles ‘the right sort of family’ Clarke. What’s more, I’ve seen some absolutely wretched performances from the England teams during this time. For all their mistakes, however, none of them have ever made me question my passion for cricket and my allegiance to the national side. But Tom Harrison, or rather decisions that Harrison (alongside others) have made over the last few years, have done exactly that. Sometimes I’ve found it hard to write anything for this blog because I’ve just felt too numb about the direction of travel. 

I’ve occasionally even felt ashamed to be an England cricket supporter on Tom Harrison’s watch. The decision to pull out of the Pakistan T20 series, the KP Snacks hook-up, the handling of the Azeem Rafiq scandal, plus the ECB’s performances at two DCMS Committee hearings were beyond embarrassing. The half-truths, the obfuscation, and the disingenuity of our cricket administrators these days make them seem like politicians.

What’s more, English cricket is now as polarised (thanks to The Hundred and the debate over the domestic structure) as it’s ever been. Have any sagas, including the dropping of Kevin Pietersen, caused more resentment and bad blood?

And that, for me, will be Tom Harrison’s primary legacy: division. Apologists might argue that sometimes you’ve got to break eggs to make an omelette. And that’s true in some cases. However, when it comes to Tom Harrison stint at the ECB, most of those eggs landed firmly on his face. And his omelettes were always served up with an unappetising surfeit of pure cheese.

James Morgan  


  • Yaroo!!! With him and Graves gone there’s no excuse to persue the Hundred.
    Who am I kidding.

  • I agree with every word that you have written James. I don’t know how Harrison has got away with it. I assume that he has collected his mega bonus and if not it will come. His entire 7 year spell at the ECB has been a total s**t show and deeply damaging to the game. My only hope is that somehow we can come back from this.

  • Agree with every word James. For the sake of balance however I’d like to mention the words of sympathy from Harrison for the 62 staff who lost their jobs with the ECB in the wake of covid-19. What’s that you say? Bonus? What bonus??

    • I should have mentioned the job losses and bonus. Thanks for reminding everyone.

  • Good riddance to him indeed. But I fear that there’s no stopping the wheels he set in motion. Whether we like it or not, the Hundred isn’t going anywhere, and nor is the ECB’s fixation with pay-TV deals – and we’re reduced to damage limitation as to the effect these have on the game as a whole. I hope I’m wrong and a more enlightened ECB can reverse this- but I simply can’t see it happening.

  • Wow. Great stuff here, think you’ve covered it all James. Yes the guy was and is a king size a**e hole. Drove me to support NZ instead of awful England, whom I trust will thrash England 3-0.
    You know the ECB has been trying to get a new Chairman since last October, no one wants it. Not surprised it’s a poisoned chalice. It’s all very well having Stokes, McCollum and golfer Key but unless the ECB is reformed top down little will change. Oh there is some women taking over Harrison’s job until they can get some other idiot to do it, why am I not surprised.

    • It’s a shame you can’t make your point without resorting to a personal insult. James made his points well and eloquently – which is always far more effective than just name calling.

  • Totally agree with all that you say, and to think he went off with a performance bonus is totally beyond belief. He should be ashamed to take it.

    • I suspect Harrison’s sense of shame is on a par with Boris Johnson’s. Namely, nil. I was in the car when I heard the news: must have looked a bit odd cheering in the middle of the A18!

  • Amen to all of that James.
    Could I just add that Clare Connor’s appointment (whilst she is still MCC President) to me sends out warning signs, as does the fact the Gerald Corbett’s name has been mentioned.
    For my money, the last thing we need is a 100 loving sycophant, but rather someone who can bridge the gap between the ECB and the Counties to mutual benefit. Harrison’s strategy has been to transfer as much money as possible to the ECB from the Counties through media deals and, of course, The Hundred and to weaken their future bargaining position by introducing franchises. The Counties, however, will still have the responsibility, and cost, of developing the players for the franchisees !
    As you rightly point out, the ECB are happy to trumpet what they claim is the success of the 100. My suspicion is that the financial return would have been greater had they invested a similar amount in the existing formats whilst the damage done to these formats could have been avoided.
    My ideal, if they would take it, would be Richard Thompson as Chairman with Gould (who should have got the job instead of Harrison) as CEO. My nightmare would be Corbett and Connor.

  • Obviously I’m not sorry to see Harrison go but I do think he’s been something of a lightning rod to take the heat that should be directed at the true architects of ECB strategy. If Harrison really was in control then policy would change with his going – but does anyone believe that’s going to happen?

    There’s going to be a lot more rhetoric about the Test team but it’s just talk so Sky can keep milking it for a final few years. The reality in just the last few days has been yet another bowler out with long-term injury and the rumoured selection of the captain’s county mate. Oh brave new world…

    • His County mate who just happens to have taken more wickets than anyone else this season. Come on, Simon, not everything is an elaborate conspiracy !

  • From someone who has also spent the best part of four decades following cricket, this is spot on. And for the paid cricket writer’s version, you may want to read Andy Bull on the Guardian site.

  • Ideally I’d like not to know who the Chair/Chief Exec/Head Administrator of the ECB are!

    I don’t mean there should be a news blackout withholding this information from the public. Just that the administrators would be quietly and competently getting on with their jobs in the background, and all the interesting news stories would be about the actual cricket — the matches, the players, the manager(s), the competitions. But not the administration.

    If the CEO is doing things that cause their name to appear in enough articles that I can remember who they are, that probably means they are doing too much, or doing the wrong things — or, of course, both.

    • Smilers
      That’s exactly why in my view we should be looking to Surrey for the next upper echelons. It’s one of the best managed sporting organisations in the country but how many people could name their Chairman and CEO ? I can guarantee that you will hear more about the ECB’s interim (?) CEO in the next few weeks and months than you will about either of them, unless, of course, they figure in the appointments list !

  • Very well put James and chimes exactly with my views on the man.

    Good riddance!

  • The Hundred was obviously intended to be an English version of the IPL, but it’s missed out all the good bits. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things wrong with the IPL, but it does a lot right too (it can’t be all bad when the leading wicket takers are all wrist spinners and 140kph+ fast bowlers). Young Indian players are given a chance to shine in the IPL; I don’t see the same in the Hundred. It’s too obviously just a money making exercise (however successful or otherwise that might be).
    The other key difference is that the Indian cricket season is long enough to accommodate the IPL without damaging the integrity of the system alongside it (this is despite the former leadership of the BCCI rather than because of it). The English season isn’t, especially the part of the season where conditions are similar to the English test season. This in turn means England test players are expected to compete with no practice in the right conditions.

  • You should not start an article with an apology for what you are about to say: you are only stating what most of us are thinking. As a player, the game was not at all kind to Tom Harrison. He has exacted revenge and, boy, has he become achingly rich. His wealth is his legacy — and not much else.

  • Tom Harrison is a buffoon and is out of touch with traditional cricket fans who have followed the sport for all their lives and has made cricket a dumber sport.


copywriter copywriting