• Downton takes the fall

    Paul Downton has been sacked as the England managing director after 14 months in the job by the new England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Tom Harrison.

    The positions of Downton, the national selector James Whitaker and the head coach Peter Moores – currently in the Caribbean with the senior side – have all been questioned following a harrowing Cricket World Cup group stage exit in Australia and New Zealand in March and a year of off-field angst that has followed the decision to cancel Kevin Pietersen’s central contract.

    And now, before Wednesday’s board meeting at the ECB offices – the last to be chaired by Giles Clarke before he is replaced by the incoming Colin Graves in May – Downton has been told his position is no longer required. Harrison, who will present his review into the World Cup at the meeting, will now create a new management structure that includes a director of England cricket, one which the former England captain Michael Vaughan told Sky Sports he would be willing to consider.

    ‘I’m always open to chats about the future of English cricket. They’ve got my phone number,’ he said.

    Harrison said in a statement: ‘The England Cricket Department needs to deliver performance at the highest level and our structure needs to be accountable for reaching the standards we aspire to. The new role we are putting in place will deliver an environment where world class performance is at the heart of everything we do.

    ‘Paul is a man of great integrity who has worked extremely hard to make a difference at the ECB,’ added Harrison.

    ‘He joined at a very difficult time, but under his leadership the Test team have made significant strides. We thank him for his hard work, drive and determination and wish him every success for the future.’

    The former Kent wicketkeeper Downton was appointed to replace the outgoing Hugh Morris in October 2013 following a post-playing career in the City but did not officially start his role until February the following year, by which time England had endured a train-wreck 5-0 Ashes whitewash at the hands of Australia.

    His first act, at the behest of his employers, was the controversial decision to remove Pietersen from the set-up, resulting in the batsman’s central contract being paid up in full. The terms of the severance package saw both the ECB and Pietersen bound by a confidentially agreement until the end of September.

    But later that summer Downton was forced to issue a public apology to the batsman after an interview with BBC’s Test Match Special, in which he claimed Pietersen had been ‘disinterested’ and ‘distracted’ during his final Test in Sydney and that the senior players supported the move. – guardian.co.uk