Paul Downton sacked

England Cricket Board

As Winston Churchill said after the Second Battle of El Alamein:

This is not the end; it is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Let’s not count our chickens, but today is potentially one of the greatest days in the history of English cricket. Not simply because we have witnessed Downton’s ultimate humiliation and downfall. And not only because we are finally rid of this toxic, cancerous, buffoon. But for what it represents more broadly.

Reduced to its core, the Downton-Pietersen saga always revolved around one simple dynamic: the opposition between ‘in’ and ‘out’. Pietersen, the outsider, was banished by those within cricket’s inner sanctum of clan and nepotism. Downton was the archetypal insider; establishment to his marrow; friend and kindred spirit to those of influence; former team-mate of many journalists.

When the ECB issued their infamous “outside cricket” press release they encapsulated and explained the entire conflict in just those two fateful words.

In the year following Pietersen’s execution, those inside systematically barricaded themselves against the enemy without. Alastair Cook was appointed their mascot; the regime’s survival depended on his, both as captain and player. By extension, Downton’s own fortunes became inextricably linked to Giles Clarke’s. The ECB could not allow a single breach to their defences. They looked after their own. The organisation no longer existed for the purpose of running English cricket, but to protect a cabal of grandees.

Whatever the level of incompetence, no one could be dismissed lest the entire edifice collapsed.

But no more. Or at least, so it seems.

Tom Harrison, the new chief executive, has taken the same sensible decision any business leader would: to dismiss – in Downton – a poisonous, mendacious cretin whose arrogance, ego, and plain stupidity had driven English cricket on to the rocks.

No prizes for recognising the bleeding obvious. But a gold medal for doing the right thing in the face of ECB culture – in defying the Mafia-esque jobs-for-the-boys nepotism which, time and again, enslaves our game in the dark ages.

There is now genuinely cause for hope, fragile yet it though seems. Never again will English cricket have a better opportunity to build a new Jerusalem – and put merit before prejudice, reason before kinship, and the interests of the game before those of its self-appointed masters.

It’s a chance which must be taken.

Few will shed a tear for Downton. Tonight, far more will feel a sense of vindication. And when the Ashes begin, far fewer of the English cricketing public will feel unable to embrace and support the team.

Will strife finally cease? Will lessons truly be learned? And will Pietersen return? We will see. This is only the end of the beginning.


  • Like an obituary in a newspaper, did you have this drafted some time back?

    And kudos on finding a picture of Downton looking so creepy!

  • Graves didn’t make £90 million being nice to incompetents.

    Swift and decisive, he has struck out no 1.

    Out in WI, Moores must feel like he’s on death row and has just found out his chief counsel has moved o….

  • Andy Flower is still the one whose going will mean change is more than cosmetic.

    • Absolutely correct. As an optimist I see this as the first strike. So let’s see but, in the meantime, it should shut those players up trying to “contain” Graves’ comments that they must win in WI or else. It would appear that they have forgotten that their job is today cricket (and nothing else).

    • yes, a thousand yes’s. Downton was always Flower’s puppet, all this means is that Flower is looking for another string to pull.

    • Join us, Mr Downton… join us outside cricket. Mwahahahahahahahahahahahaha… mwahahahahahahahahahahahaha… mwahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

    • Now if we can cut Flower, Whitaker and Moores loose, we might have a chance of getting an England team picked on merit this side of 2020.

  • There is a rumour Andrew Strauss will replace Downton. Don’t get your hopes up everyone!

    Strauss would not be my choice. Much as I respect him, he would not be the break from the past we’ve so desperately needed for a long time. Let’s hope the Twitter rumours are unfounded. Other candidates have been mentioned too.

    • Fair enough, but let’s be honest: even Strauss would be a massive step up from Downton.

    • Are the rumours from any credible sources James? I’ve only seen Paul Newman and Chris Stocks backing the idea and credible they ain’t.

      • No hard evidence, thankfully. But I do know Strauss is keen on a political role :-)

        • All the more reason not to appoint him.
          Too close to the team and the Middlesex cabal.

  • Welcome back Maxie! I was only asking about you yesterday. And here you are with the kind of plain speaking I like. :-)

    A bit concerned about all the talk that the newly created post may go to Flower or Strauss. Nasser would be my preference. Let us hope someone wise gets the job.

  • Can’t see how Graves/Harrison can give KP hope of a recall and then appoint either Strauss or Flower with their total antipathy toward him.

    Matt Prior as fitness coach, anyone?

  • Maxie

    Welcome back.

    Can I just clarify something though – is anything you post here an invitation from you to a dialogue, or not? And do you take notice of opinions, at least from those whose opinions you respect?

    Although we live in a society that values free speech, and this is an online forum open for comments (and it may even be moderated for all I know), I want to ensure we all understand, so we can genuflect if you consider it necessary. I don’t want to unfollow you, however easy it may be.

    Thanks, and keep up the good work Lord Allen.

    • James here. Yes we are always open to intelligent dialogue. And i don’t think we’ve ever moderated a comment, ever (other than spam, or maybe stuff that is racist, offensive etc). Go for it!

  • Three big decision made by Downton and he couldn’t get any of them right. My belief is that Flower told him to get rid of Pietersen and the decision was take too quickly for Downton to come to his own decision. Downton’s pathetic explanations are contradicted by the likes of Michael Carberry and Chris Tremlett’s (who were on the Ashes tour)continued support for Pietersen whereas Downton preferred to tell the media the players all wanted Pietersen out. Appointing Moores appeared to be another decision with huge Flower input. England’s inept tactics and lack of flexibility at the World Cup showed Moores for exactly what he is – a decent county coach who is out of his depth in international cricket. The final decision Downton was party to was the hopelessly timed sacking of Alistair Cook. Cook should have been relived of the one day captaincy after the Australian tour. It seemed clear that by the end of the English 2014 summer any managing director/selection committee with any wit should remove Cook for his own good. But no Downton managed to offer support to Cook in the media following another harrowing series in Sri Lanka before the last minute sacking that followed. A thoroughly incompetent, ham fisted, and error strewn reign. For the good of English cricket James Whitaker must follow and as a fan who has a ticket for the 3rd Ashes test this summer i want to be able to watch Kevin Pietersen if his form demands it rather than be told that due to batsmen who feasted on average sub continent seamers last summer (a world away from Johnson, Starc, Boult etc) there are no spots available. Downton continually talked in the press about the development of younger players but I’d sight Ben Stokes and Steven Finn as two who have not flourished under the Downton/Moores era. Peter Moores has to go too even if we win 3-0 in the West Indies. He is out of his depth and favours a cautious safety first approach – Prior over Buttler at the start of last summer, Balance as an extra batter in the World Cup, the continued exclusion of Hales, and the selection of Tredwell for the current tour. My last point is that I hope either Graves or Harrison gets hold of Alistair Cook and gives him a talking too and a warning about his future conduct. For Cook to have the nerve to criticise his sacking as ODI captain appalling. He was clearly not worth his place in the side and England were losing series after series. This added to his weak grasp of the tactical side of the game meant the only thing wrong with the decision was that it was months too late. Cook (and Moores) have got away with a lot due to beating an Indian side who were barely interested at the end of last summer and Cook needs to get his head down and score some runs in the New Zealand/Ashes series. He form has been poor for a prolonged period and i wouldn’t be surprised for him to lose the captaincy and be out of the side by the end of the coming summer. Instead of making ill judged criticisms of decisions he needs to produce.

    • You know, for someone who (presumably) doesn’t “follow the team around professionally”, you make a strong case.

      But here’s what someone who does “follow the team around professionally” thinks:

      “It will be easy to deride Downton but he was not afraid to make brave calls and none of his big calls could yet be called a failure.

      Pietersen was sacked for valid reasons and remains a long way from an England recall, Moores may yet prove to be ‘the outstanding coach of his generation’ as Downton called him and Cook had endured a terrible one-day run even though his successor in Eoin Morgan fared even worse than Cook.

      Ultimately he did what he thought was best for the England team and does not deserve the derision he has achieved in recent times.”


      “England also come under attack for the way they handled the sacking of Pietersen, a situation where they had right on their side – plus the support of the bulk of those who follow the team around professionally – but somehow allowed the maverick to claim the morale high ground.”

      The support of the bulk of “those who follow the team around professionally” (aka: inside cricket). Because that’s what matters. Maxie, you were 100% right from the very start on this. I hope you feel some vindication today.

      • Anything written by Paul Newman I disregard. He keeps quoting Pietersen was sacked for ‘valid’ reasons while never backing this up with any valid reasons. He has also fallen out with Pietersen having written his first book so his articles on this come from an angle.

    • I mostly agree with you, Andy (apart from the spelling), but where did you get the diea that Moore has been “a decent county coach”?

  • Dancing round theliving room and simging the Allelluia xhorus. Along with others I see

    I am so delighted to see the. BAck of this obnoxious little toad that I could even kiss Piers Morgan!!!!!

  • Good point from Agnew on Twitter (no, wait, seriously!). Does this new role include being a selector? If so, why have a chairman of selectors?

    Also, what about Martyn Moxon as an outside bet for the role?

    • Didn’t idiot Newman recently say that Graves was undermining Downton? How’s being sacked for the ultimate in undermining then, Mr Newman? :)

  • It’s a start.
    But there are still several egotists taking their wages from the ECB without apprecialbly contributing anything to the progression of anyone in the England team.
    When they start to disappear, then I’ll have more hope. In the meantime, what a shock! Stuart Broad has another injury scare. Perhaps an examination of the medical team might be prudent next?

    • ^ This, a thousand times this.
      I’m not inherently comfortable calling for more sackings, but it seems sackings are what it takes to make a change. And so I want the sackings to continue at least until someone is put under the microscope about the management of injuries, which seems like a fault line through the setup.

  • If Flower gets this new top job, then I have 2 choices:

    1. Full-on direct action protest mode.

    2. Full-on direct action protest mode, plus comedy dog mess in the post to Harrison and Graves.

    Uh-oh. I’ve implicated myself.

  • Good riddance!! And not a day too soon. I whooped loudly when I heard the news. The evil regime begins to crumble. The cabal first came undone with the sacking of Cook,who was propped up by the regime as a mask, from the ODI Captaincy. Now Whitaker, Moores and Flower remain.

    I dearly hope Strauss is not considered for the role of Director. He is a stooge and as much of an ‘insider’ and a ‘company man’ from the ‘right family’ as Downton et al. If Flower has a modicum of decency, he will leave before being shoved.

    • What exactly has Strauss done to deserve that kind of opprobrium?! I get that he was caught saying some very unpleasant things about KP, and is known to be close to Cook, but neither of those are hanging offences! That just happens to be the personal nature of his relationships with two of his former team-mates… some you like, some you don’t! I do get uncomfortable when people using the ‘right family’ in this particular context. It was an awful original comment (and attitude) from Clarke about Cook – but how does it apply to Strauss? He can’t help what family he was born into! There is a danger that we try and counter Clarke’s ridiculous prejudices with our own reverse snobbery and slag off anybody in or around the team who went to public school / speaks slightly posh!

      Just to be clear, I don’t mean to single you out, there have been a few similar posts that have also left me a bit confused. In my mind, he represented England well during his time, came across as a decent enough bloke and was probably one of our better captains. His record and service surely deserves some respect. That being said, I’d much prefer to see the savvy, street-wise Vaughan take the Director position. He was another classy captain… we’ve had some good skippers!

      • I’m anticipating being wrong in everyone else’s eyes but my problem with Strauss is that he represents the same old, same old. Company man, safe pair of hands, nice high front elbow, media-trained, no acting on instinct when maybe instinct should prevail once in a while. Or, if I could use Radiohead for a quote… a big quote…

        Fitter, happier, more productive
        Comfortable, not drinking too much
        Regular exercise at the gym 3 days a week
        Getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries

        At ease, eating well
        No more microwave dinners and saturated fats
        A patient better driver, a safer car, baby smiling in back seat
        Sleeping well, no bad dreams, no paranoia
        Careful to all animals, never washing spiders down the plughole

        Keep in contact with old friends, enjoy a drink now and then
        Will frequently check credit at Moral Bank hole in wall
        Favors for favors, fond but not in love
        Charity, standing orders, on Sundays ring road supermarket

        No killing moths or putting boiling water on the ants
        Car wash also on Sundays
        No longer afraid of the dark or midday shadows
        Nothing so ridiculously teenage and desperate
        Nothing so childish

        At a better pace, slower and more calculated
        No chance of escape, now self-employed
        Concerned but powerless
        An empowered and informed member of society

        Pragmatism, not idealism
        Will not cry in public
        Less chance of illness
        Tires that grip in the wet
        Shot of baby strapped in back seat
        A good memory

        Still cries at a good film
        Still kisses with saliva
        No longer empty and frantic
        Like a cat tied to a stick
        That’s driven into frozen winter shit

        The ability to laugh at weakness
        Calm, fitter, healthier and more productive
        A pig in a cage on antibiotics

        That’s Andrew Strauss for me. That’s said, he was a proper good opener.

      • I wouldn’t join in any kind of bashing of Stauss – he deserves respect and acknowledgment for his career and certainly doesn’t deserve personal abuse – but I wouldn’t be keen on him taking over the position. From what he’s said in various interviews, he very much bought in to Flower’s philosophy about ethic, training, etc, a philosophy which seems to have hit a brick wall. He may well be capable of reappraising his approach, or may already have done so, but I think a break from Flower and a fresh pair of eyes would be healthy at this juncture. Strauss does, unfortunately, often come across as being a mouthpiece for the management/ECB. I suspect that’s rather more natural inclination that any kind of undue influence.

        If I were to pick someone for a senior role in England cricket right now (not that my opinion is worth a jot) it would be Alec Stewart. Experienced administrator, former captain, most capped England player, played recently enough to be in touch but not so recently as to have played with the current team (something Strauss suffers from, unfortunately) and seems to embody the ‘without fear or favour’ approach – the KPGenius business being a recent example.

        • strauss did well as a player to a large extent and certainly doesnt deserve abuse, but we dont want another guy who has to unlearn adn learn at intl level we already have moores doing that.

          vaughan despite being a loud mouth would fit well atleast to take the team out the rut of now.

  • Thanks Maxie, for cheering me up after a tough day, workwise!

    Maybe cleaning out the Augean Stables may not be a job confined to Hercules after all.

  • George Dobell:

    He has Vaughan as heavy favourite for the job and points out the implications for Moores given the history between the two. He is also the first to mention that the position not just of Whitaker but the other selectors is in jeopardy.

    I’m undecided about Vaughan and regard the rest of that as good news. There is one massive piece of bad news in the report though……

  • Welcome back Maxie! They say timing is everything, and what a day to choose.

    Interesting to see who else goes, and more important who replaces these people.

    But thanks for running this site with James and giving a forum for those of us who never fell for this horse manure offered up by the ECB.

  • Hi boys and girls, I am away at present on holiday. Just having a drink by the bar and message arrived from Old Man and poof. He’s Gone! Result!!! Hope now that the rest of them will all tumble. Lots of love one and all xpressanny

  • well this has just absolutely made my day. Now to get rid of Flower, Cook, Moores and Whitaker.

    • That’s gonna be a ton of P45 monies. And we say: go for it, Colin!

      Have England beaten themselves yet? This is such a crazy day. Oops, yesterday.

      • Not yet, but Root looks to have nailed down his place at number 8 for St Kitts.

  • It’s hilarious reading some of the press who backed Downton to the hilt now trying to make his time in charge seem less disastrous than it was. Like he was some noble martyr to the cause and ultimately a victim of circumstances that were not at all of his own making.

    Look at Brenkley, for example:

    “Despite his 30 Test caps, his part in an Ashes-winning campaign and durable playing career, as well as being a thoroughly affable chap, Paul Downton will go down in cricket history for one thing. He is The Man Who Sacked Kevin Pietersen.

    “That will be his legacy as it was his curse during his short time as managing director of England cricket. He took what was a brave, perhaps necessary, decision within days of officially starting in the job last year and it came to stalk him wherever he went and whatever he did.”

    Bending over backwards to gild the lily, surely.

    Downton was sacked because of a string of bad decisions on his watch and some disastrous results. Brenkley, however, chooses to make it all about KP. Even in that event, if the sacking of KP hung like a millstone around Downton’s neck, it’s his own fault – firstly for making the decision and secondly for being utterly unable or unwilling to explain it.

    And why exactly was it a “brave, perhaps necessary decision”?

    It was an expedient act of scapegoating following a bad defeat. Why is that “brave”? As for being necessary, that case was never made, was it? And that, frankly, was part of the problem.

    Maybe the tame gimp press should have done a better job asking for that explanation instead of simply telling everyone to move on.

  • Great news and just a couple more to follow suit…Everyone says Moores cannot be sacked on the eve of a test series…Well Australia did and the consequences were superb. All we need now is Michael Vaughan in the role of Director of cricket, with selection responsibilities and then we are on the way to recovery from one of the most disastrous periods in English cricket history.

    • Mooresy’s last 12 months is blatant sack-fodder in my estimation. Win or lose versus WI, I think he’s gonna get moved on this Spring.

      Let’s not hold back: on paper and recent form we are going down to the Kiwis. Playing St Kitts (or each other) ain’t gonna improve us for anything. The Aussies are gonna bust us a new one. May as well make the change. As someone said earlier, bringing Lehmann in at 2 minutes to midnight ended up working pretty well. Not at the first instance, but the unity sprang forth.

      And we might attract a few more able coaching candidates with a fresher looking ECB up above.

  • Utterly off topic, but has anyone noticed the similarity between James Tredwell and one of the Engineers from the film Prometheus?

    I mean: wow! James Tredwell responsible for the creation of the human race from his DNA! Wouldn’t have guessed that. Apologies if this has been spotted before.

    Anyone else sacked yet?

  • Hmmm not sure where to start with this.

    All I will say is, the analysis and comment over the past few weeks has been refreshing and well worth reading, thanks James and more of it please!

  • Ha!

    Good to see you back Maxie and I’ll bet James is relieved, he’s been doing a lot of heavy lifting in your absence and doing a bloody good job as well.

    Excellent news reported with the Joie de vivre it deserves I’m sure all England fans look forward to dancing on the metaphoric graves of many other ECB tools in the near future.

    And an excellent reason to revile Strauss if one were needed; He’s a Tory.

  • Thanks for all your kind words. Will respond properly later, when I get a sec.

  • By now, no-one is going to see this, but…. 1st Hello all, I missed you in a sorry attempt to get my now done shit done. 2nd is Mr Old ok? I hope so, but his blog is gone. If you read this, pass my love. Now to business…

    I’m out of the loop, and so, along with mixing my metaphores, also probably barking up the wrong proverb. I’m glad Dowton Abbey has been giving the ignominious heave ho. However, as I recall, the problem was that the ECB is a private members club. It runs cricket in the interest of the MCC and the counties. If Mr Graves is a better whatzit the Giles Clarke, good. Clarke is a money grubbing, pompous pillock (cf. Stanford, the IPL – or lack of for English cricketers – and the stich up). However, we are still praying that the new broom will clean up in a way that benefits us, the people who are English, Welsh and Scottish cricket. Sure some interests allign. We want a sucessful England team, a good county championship and fun shortform stuff. But other interests will not line up. The CC’s are broke. They need team ECB to rake in the denarii for them. I want cricket in parks and schools. I want sport, and cricket in particular, to be part of the well lived life (cf. CLR). That means not making it a west end show, but something in which we have a stake; something that reflects the social reality that is its wellspring. No amount of straight talking, no nonsense Yorkies running the show will make that happen unless and until we are not outside cricket.

    The bottom line (as you business types have it): Graves sacked Downton and might yet sack the others because they were incompetent. He didn’t sack them because of anything we said, did or might want.


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